Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What next?

The blog is still inactive, generally.
But since I have two weeks off, I will certainly be updating the blog with a new album review. I want to be something big, or something new. It could very well be one of the Joker's Cards, since I have them all now. If you have a certain Joker's Card you want reviewed, lemme hear it! Drop on by the Facebook page and post your suggestion, then I'll see what happens when I decide to drop a review.
Right now though, I'm heavily considering The Mighty Death Pop as the album I review. We will see what happens, so keep tuned homies.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Everybody Betta Shut They Mouth, 'Cause I'm Back (Not Really)

Where did Admin go??
Where is JRH???

Alright my lovelies! Alright, I hear ya! It's time for me to drop the shit on ya; I gotta let my ninjas know what has been going on, where I have been, and what's up for the future of the blog.

For those of you who don't know, I am a student in high school; since the beginning of this blog I have been. It's senior year for me - mad busy, lots of shit going on. I fucking love this blog with all my heart, I love bringing the real truth about the latest underground wicked freshness straight to ya dome. But I have a lot of shit going on right now, so the blog fell out of priority.
Who knows? Honestly, I'm so caught up in shit right now that such a question is not within my grasp to answer. But I know that I will be here at some point in the future.
On top of my being a student, know that this blog is and was purely extracurricular. I never received any money or academic recognition for running and updating this blog, it was just something I liked doing. And it was an adventure. Whether you looked at one of my reviews or all of them, know that I appreciate your presence and value your participation.
To add on, I'm going to be applying to colleges and taking on a whole new chapter of my life. The fact that I am moving on to secondary education could very well be the actual death of this blog, as sad as that makes me to say. But know that no matter what happens, I am and will always be down with the motherfucking clown and show much love to all my ninja family.
I have a lot of future plans. I got a lot going on for me, and I plan to get a job later on in the year so I can save up some money to make it to the motherfucking GATHERING OF THE JUGGALOS MOTHERFUCKA!!! So maybe some of you ninjas who've been digging my shit will see me there, who the fuck knows? But I'm planning ahead and trying as hard as I can, so you know I'm going to be up in the motherfucking place when the damn time rolls around.
And despite the fact I haven't been here, I'm still an avid listener. Lo Key's new album came out (Getting that soon, pre-ordered it), First Six is up for pre-order, and the new Joker's Card has been revealed. There's one album in particular that came out that I've been bumping nonstop...

Shit's going on whether I'm here to talk about it or not, homie. But know I'm up in it. Despite all the worries of my last year in HS, I'm holding the fuck down and I'm making moves, just like the Posse held it down when they got their start. Zip Codes N Time Zones, Juggalos are everywhere and we will never fade. I've been updating the page occasionally but haven't been very active.
If you want to contact me and say what's up, the page is the best way to do that. Keep that in mind now especially but also when the blog starts moving again. And if you still want some updates on the underground wickedness, know that I'll be posting that on my page too.
With that last word, I'm gonna get out of here. I love every single one of you motherfuckers and I hope you all have a fucking fantastic weekend.
And all you ladies,
Never fuck a man with a wooden dick,
Or you'll get splinters all in your neden.

Monday, August 18, 2014

"The House II", Lo Key EP review

Yoyo ninjas. I've been waiting to do this review for a little while.
Released on Halloween a year after the first, The House II is a direct sequel to The House. Also similar to the first one, it was released in a multitude of different versions over the years. To start off this review, I'm going to list all the iterations below.
     There are two 2006 versions. Both came out on Halloween.
    - There is the slim case version that came with specific art that I will post below
    - There is also the free downloadable version, with very slightly altered art
   -  The 2008 machine press, which came with different art and a jewel case
     Finally, the 2009 reissue of the album on Lo Key's record label, Lokerecords. It comes with different, finalized art that I will be posting below
     With that I will move on to other aspects of the EP.

To clarify, I only have the 2009 reissued press of the EP. I will only be speaking on this press.
     The cover art consists of a hand with the thumb, pinkie, and ring finger severed. This leaves only the index and middle, simulating the number two. It's set against a crimson background. Unique, stark, well-done.
     On the back you have you track listing for the five tracks, and a Lo Key logo above it. The cover art is a slip, yet again, and on the back of the slip is an advert for Infectshop.com. On the CD is the cover art, but printed and fit to the disc. Nothing in the CD rest.

     There's not too much I can say about this EP. And even if there was, I don't think I'd want to talk much about this EP. I'll keep it honest, short and sweet for my ninjas.
     Similar to the first EP, it was released on Halloween, and it was well-received within the realm of the underground. The aesthetic formula hasn't changed; if you glance at the tracklist, you'll see a familiar list of household items and devices meant to illustrate the story of a home. This is, again, a very creative and fresh concept for production, and is something that hasn't quite been done by other artists.
     The similarities don't end there, which is unfortunate for this EP. The House II suffers from many of the same ailments that plagued the first entry in The House series. The first thing here that doesn't shine is the five-song tracklist, which wouldn't be a problem if the CD was cheaper, or easily available for free download. While the concept of this EP is fresh, five songs to paint the whole scene just isn't enough, and the extended play's content feels seriously crammed as a result.
     The biggest folly of the first EP was that the content was too much of the same, "Murda Murda Murda!" bullshit, with no variety in the themes of the EP whatsoever. There is some of that this time around too, but even more noticeable is that the content seems scattered and tends to jump around quite a bit. Instead of a barrage of the same shit over and over, Lo Key opts to instead jump all over the place with a wider berth of messages. This does the CD some justice and is much preferable to the monotony of the first EP, but it makes the CD feel crammed because of the tragically short tracklist. Even one or two more songs would have helped to make this CD feel less congested.
     While this CD is definitely a step up from the first entry in the series, there is so much that still needs to be improved on. This entry is very far from being perfect, so here's hoping that Lo Key really steps it the fuck up on the next entry because let's be real, it needs to happen.
     Ninjas I've said it once, and I'll say it again: This might be worth your money, it might not be, but what's more important to remember this time around, is that this CD probably isn't worth your money, and you're better off not wasting your time with this EP. Yes, The House is important to Lo Key's career, but there isn't enough good content on the CD to justify spending your money on it. Go listen to it on YouTube or something.

JRH gives "The House II" by Lo Key a: 1.4/5!
("Nah, not really")

Strong points:
- Not everything about this CD is bad. Some big hits in Lo Key's career are here, specifically, The Needle and The Child. Unfortunately, they outshine the rest of the EP and make everything else look like shit in comparison.
- The art for the CD is much better than the art for the first entry, but isn't exactly spectacular either

Weak points (2many2count):
- Lo Key tries to do way too much with way too little, and ends up making the EP sound crammed because of it. Even one or two more tracks would have really helped make this EP sound less congested.
- Really, there are only two good songs on this album, and they've been pressed onto many other CDs for your listening pleasure. Look into those if you want a nice CD to slam for a while.
>12.99 for a five-song EP

That's it ninjas. Now it's time for the graphics:

Slim-case, 2006

Slightly different than the one above; different color tones. Free download, 2006

Machine press, 2008

Finalized art, 2009 repressing on Lokerecords

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Exmilitary", Death Grips digital mixtape review

All right ninjas, I'm dropping another one on ya.
"Death Grips"
     They came on the scene not too long ago, forming in 2010. I'm not going to go too much into their history, but I'll mention that the group consists of three: MC Ride (the vocalist), the producer, and a drummer.
     You might know about these guys, you might not. But regardless of either circumstance, these guys are fairly well-known and have somewhat of a cult following on the internet. Death Grips's experimental sound and belligerent, loud demeanor culled a large and enviable crowd from along the breadth of the internet, a crowd that they have maintained throughout the years. As a last, more somber note, the group disbanded this year in the midst of a tour. Exmilitary was their first big release, with only an EP coming beforehand. It propelled them onto the scene because of its experimental, loud nature, and was generally received well by critics.
But I'm here to tell you like it is, from one ninja to another ninja.

     I'm going to start off by exclaiming to everyone that Death Grips is not your average rap group in any possible iota. This isn't wickedshit, this isn't really even underground - and some would say that it's not even rap. Death Grips is similar to nothing in particular, and they are a terribly unique entity in whatever genre you decide they belong to. I want to just establish that fact so you know what you're walking into if you decide to give these guys a listen.
     This mixtape is a lot to take in, and I don't mean that in length. At thirteen tracks, this mixtape has a moderate length that suits it well. At times this album seems nothing more than a headache, with cacophonous mechanical production that grates the eardrums, and loud, nonsensical yelling on part of the MC. My feelings on this album vary - there were some times that I could hardly even stand to listen to the screeching coalesce of the grating beats and the belligerent exclamations of the seemingly-addled MC, while other times I mentally praised the recondite production skills of whomever was behind the scenes, making this thing happen.
     In essence, the true nature and true quality of this mixtape is not for me or any critic to decide. While the medley of loud vocals and the robotic dins of experimental production can often be off-putting, there are some that revel in the bass-heavy maniacal exclamations and thumping production. The ultimate verdict on the quality of this album must be determined by the listener, because of how far outside the norm this group is. I encourage you to take a listen and decide for yourself.
     But personally, it's not my thing. While this album is unique musically-speaking, the unintelligible vocals and experimental beats don't quite sit very well with me. I respect Death Grips as a group for being unique and garnering national attention through their haphazard talent, but I am personally not a big fan of their music at a baser level.
     Ninjas, this album is free, but it's also really fucking weird. This might be worth your time, it might not be. If you're interested in contemporary pseudo-music - the kind that tends to pick up fans with alien production and unfiltered weirdness, then I'd say this album is worth giving a look at. But if you're just an average listener who's looking to slam some new shit in the whip for a while, turn the fuck back and walk away from this. It's not for you.

Here is a download link for this mixtape:

JRH gives "Exmilitary" by Death Grips a: 2.2/5
(I've bumped better)

Strong points:
- Starkly unique sound that can easily capture the ear of a wandering listener
- Great production, seriously. Whoever is behind these beats has some real talent
- The belligerent yelling and in-your-face attitude just might be your thing
- Terribly unique; this sound stands out like a sore thumb in comparison to most rap
- The tracklist has a pretty nice flow, and doesn't seem choppy or anything like that

Weak points:
- While the noise can seem very well-orchestrated and skillful, it can also seem like a cacophonous shitfest of angry screaming and heavy basslines. The same themes that can make this album great are also its worst flaws.
- MC Ride is unique in that his manner of rapping is very strange and follows no particular set pattern, but he tends to yell a lot. Instead of sounding skillful and avant-garde, it often seems like he just has no idea how to truly vocalize.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"The Chronic: Re-Lit & From the Vault", Dr. Dre album review

This is gonna be a long, big one. So grab some Vaseline and lube up homie, let's hope it all fits.
"The Chronic: Re-Lit & Remastered"
     Released in 2009 - wait, what?
     Oh, right. This album was released/re-released four different times. I'm going to get that out of the way from square one so there is no confusion.
     The original, OG press, was released in December of 1992. This is the very first release of the album.
     It was next re-released as a remastered CD in 2001, I think, but please tell me if I'm wrong. It also came with an additional track; the video version of the song "Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')".
     From there, it was re-released again as a limited-edition DualDisc with four videos, but I'm unsure when this was released. I imagine this fetches a pretty penny.
     Finally, there is the 2009 re-release of the album: "The Chronic: Re-Lit & Remastered". This is a double-disc digipack, and comes with seven unreleased tracks from the Death Row vault. The first disc is just The Chronic in its entirety, remastered. The second disc is a DVD with a shitton of content on it. It holds seven videos for songs on this album, which I'll talk more about later. There's also a thirty-minute interview with Dre, a bunch of commercials and promos for the album, and a feature trailer for some movie. The unreleased music is on the second disc, and must be retrieved manually from the DVD's ROM folder. I imagine this process could be painful for the technologically illiterate, and it took me a bit to figure it out too.
     This album could be called many things by many different people, but above all else this album is and was incredibly influential. Any critic, rapper, or fan of hip-hop who knows anything about the Golden Age of rap would tell you the same thing. After N.W.A. split up, Dr. Dre began production of another album on his own record label, "Death Row Records". The Chronic would be Dr. Dre's first solo release, but it would be heavily featured by many other artists, among which was rap legend-to-be, Snoop Dogg. Several singles were released from the album - all of which charted very well, and all of which had videos produced for them. The Chronic has sold over eight million copies worldwide, enjoyed multiple repressings, and remains a classic entry in rap to this very day.

This album has been repressed many times, and a lot of the copies of this album have alternate art. I will be posting both the original cover and the Re-Lit & Remastered version below, but will only be speaking on the Re-Lit & Remastered graphics, since that is the version that I have.
     This cover is drastically different than other presses. The Chronic was originally released twenty-two years ago, and there's a clear effort to show the age of the album through these graphics. The cover looks old and aged, its edges charred like a newspaper curling in a modest fire. But generally, besides the shape of the background, the actual art of the album is pretty true to the original version. In the corner are the words "Re-Lit & From the Vault", advertising the album's bonus content. You'll see it in further detail below, at the end of the review.
     The back contains the track listing of the first disc and advertises the bonus content of the second disc. The bonus tracks on the DVD are listed within the same decorative frame, and everything outside the frame is licensing shit. The front cover of the digipack operates like a mixtape sleeve, and houses a small booklet that has the cover art on the front. In the booklet is undiluted praise for Dre's productions skills, courtesy of Quincy Jones III. There's in-depth production details for every song on the album (including the unreleased songs) and a picture of Dre sitting on a car. Lots of shout-outs, another ad for the bonus content on the DVD, and lastly, an ad on the back of the booklet for Death Row records. As mentioned before, the CD is a digipack, so there's multiple flaps. I guess when this album was released there was some kind of sweepstakes; there's an ad for a contest that would get you to L.A. if you won, and an ad for access to the Death Row vault. There's a picture of Dre on the backside of one of the flaps, and a picture of Snoop and Dre in the studio in the CD rest of the first CD. Both CDs follow the same art pattern, black and glossy - nice, professional-looking LE discs with licensing shit and a Death Row logo on them. Lastly, there's an ad for the extra DVD content in the CD rest of the DVD disc itself.

     This is what really matters
     Machismo, killing, sex, blunts, and smooth whips. In many ways, you could say this CD is not unique at all, and just a continuation of themes that had already been established in the rap game.
     But I beg to differ.
     The production on this album is incredible and amazingly meticulous, especially during a time where rap was gaining steady traction with people and was thus open to influence with each passing release. Dr. Dre took that possibility for influence, knocked it out of the park, into orbit, and then the ball continued to soar until it reached another solar system.
     This album was hot shit back in its day, and hell, it still is. You get the same great feeling from listening to this album today that would would have gotten twenty years ago; this album has stood the test of time better than a stone sundial. You can hear a lot when you listen to this album; a lot more than fat whips and big guns. You can hear the practiced hands of a producer mixing elaborately to create something that, lyrically, might seem like just another SG with a mic; but muscially, is something different entirely. It is primarily for this reason that this album was so well-received, and continues to be; its production value speaks for itself.
     Dr. Dre had already helped to define a grounds for gangsta rap, and with this album, he perfected the art of solid g-funk production - perhaps his biggest influence in his career. The slow, thumping beats and consistent, smooth baselines provided a clear palette for other upcoming artists to learn and work from. You can see this reflected in the history of hip-hop - in imagery, lyricism, producing techniques, and legacy.

DVD Content:
     The DVD contains four music videos, and three of them have two altered versions; seven music videos altogether. The music videos are on some VHS-quality shit, which is unsurprising given that they were shot back in the '90s. But even with this technological fact out of the way, the videos themselves aren't particularly creative or interesting. For the most part, Snoop and Dre meander around large groups of people and spit their shit, with themes that today are very common for hip-hop videos (Heterosexuality, objectification of women, guns, beef, drinking), and seem rather cookie-cutter in that respect - even if the music videos themselves might have been pretty original at the time (Which may or may not be true). On top of that, all the videos are annoyingly censored, and this fact skewers the insensitivity of the original content, leaving you scratching your head and wondering why they decided to switch it up for the mainstream. This would be acceptable if there were uncensored versions of each video, but there aren't.
     Music videos are just one aspect of the DVD. The promotional teasers and commercials are mostly uninteresting, and this is exacerbated by the fact that more than half of the promotional teasers and commercials are just slightly edited versions of each other. It's annoying, but I guess it's cool to have all the different shots of the videos. The feature movie trailer feels horribly out of place, and I am honestly not sure why it is in there. The only relevance it has with The Chronic is that there are some songs from The Chronic mixed in with the soundtrack of the movie. It seems like a paid slot - nothing more, and nothing less.
     The interview is pretty cool, actually. If you're interested in what it was like for Dr. Dre to produce this album, it's a thirty-minute interview that wasn't long after The Chronic was released, I think, and Dr. Dre just talks. The interviewer asks him question after question, and he responds appropriately. There's a lot of talk about what hip-hop means for Dr. Dre, where it fits into his life, and the history, present, and future of rap. The only thing I didn't dig about the interview was the chunk of time it took to watch it. But if you know what you're getting into you just kind of sit through it and hopefully learn some new things.
     The last feature on the DVD are the seven bonus tracks that come with it. Finding the tracks is a bit annoying, but worth the trouble in itself. I'm going to tell you straight up - if you're thinking of buying this CD because you want to hear the rare tracks, I can assure you right now that the songs aren't worth your money. The seven tracks are neither numerous or good enough to warrant being the sole reason to buy this album, and while some of the songs are pretty cool, they're just not great. In comparison to The Chronic's tracks, these songs are weak as fuck. They're cool, but not very cool. I appreciate having them, and I'll be listening to some of them in the future, but simply put, The Chronic by itself is more than good enough. Unless you're a hardcore collector, I'd recommend not wasting your money.
If you like G-funk, you'll like The Chronic. Actually, you'll fucking love it.

JRH gives "The Chronic" by Dr. Dre a: 4.5/5!
(Yeah, mothafucka!)

Strong points:
- Solid, solid, solid production
- Great lyricism and great delivery; even for themes that weren't really new at the time, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg's delivery was more than on par, for this album.
- The new art for the re-release was really pretty, every bit of it
- Great features
- Great skits
- Very influential piece, and definitely one of Dr. Dre's most important releases in his career

Weak points:
- Personally, I don't dig all the extra features. I don't think that some music videos, an interview, a handful of unreleased songs and some commercials was really worth my money. You're not going to find this on the cheap because it's OOP, so keep that in mind too.
- Bonus tracks aren't worth your money, plain and simple
- Nothing about the music videos has changed. I feel like these were all already released to the public, but the DVD is just a more convenient way to access them, and that's what you're paying for.

The version of the album I'm reviewing. Notice the worn background, but otherwise consistent artwork.

Apparently the art for this album was a homage to Zig-Zags, but honestly, I'm not even sure what a Zig-Zag is. All you smoker motherfuckas can probably relate to that shit, but I'm pullin' a fat blank.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"The House", Lo Key EP review

Sup fam. 'Nother Lo Key review this time around. Gonna get straight to it.
Originally released on Halloween, 2005, this album is an EP by Lo Key originally released as a free download. It was released on disc two years later, in a slim case. The next year, 2008, the album was re-released in a jewel case with alternate art, but with the same cover. Then in 2009, it was definitely re-released on LOKE Records with an entirely different cover and remastered music.
     This EP was pretty big back in its day, and garnered Lo Key much more attention than it was probably expected to. This is likely the reason for Lo Key's continuation of The House as a series. To this day, it remains a classic entry in the underground game, and there's even a little saying to go with the legacy: Every time you mention "The House", a suburban teenage girl starts bumping the EP on laptop speakers in her basement.
I kid, I kid.

Throughout the years, the graphics for this CD have changed. There are three prints of this album right now, but I'm unsure what the graphics look like for all of them since I only own the most recent print. With that said, the graphics I'm going to be speaking on are from the most recent print.
     The cover, currently, isn't pretty. It looks like something out of some Frankenstein-inspired movie, which isn't very inviting. The entire front cover is a face, one that looks like it once belonged to a human, but is now the decrepit remains of a skull. Except, almost robotic. As if instead of an actual skull, it is the rusted, dilapidated remains of perhaps...an android skull? It's weird - you have to see it to understand, and you will, below.
     On the back, got your track listed, not very exciting. There's a Lo Key seal on the back, and I'm assuming by the texture that the background is supposed to be the backside of the skull. The cover piece is a slip, and there's an ad for Infectshop on the back of it. Printed on the CD is the skull from the cover, and there's nothing in the CD rest.

     This is for sure one of the worst CDs that I bothered to pay money for. On paper, the concept of this album is actually very cool - when you look at the tracklist and see the methodical way the tracks are arranged, you can't help but think about the flurry of creativity that must be brewing on the CD. Except, this CD isn't very creative at all. But before you get to throwing eggs, let me walk you through this five-track EP.
     I think the prospect of this EP is the reason a lot of people were attracted to it, but besides the creative facade, there really isn't much to it. The EP draws you in with a promising glimmer of artistry, but this EP is twenty minutes of the same shit over and over. It opens with some people going to a haunted house, and then the next four tracks are about how he's gonna murder you. But staring at the tracklist, you might think that Lo Key was going to find a creative way to rap about a house: The Attic, The Basement, The Kitchen...this is sadly not the case.
     The only thing that changes about this album is the setting, and the only thing that changes about the setting is the way that Lo Key raps about murdering you. It's seriously two-dimensional, and while Lo Key is a skilled rapper, the stale-ass theme is what truly makes this EP mediocre. I can't even understand how it maintained such a good vibe in the underground world, because the only thing that makes this EP special is the premise, and that gets old really fast. It isn't even like the production can make up for it, because that's surprisingly unremarkable too. A poorly executed great idea would be a good way to think of it.
     Let me tell you ninjas: this CD is 12.99, and you're better off putting your money somewhere else - anywhere else, than wasting your time on this CD. If you're a collector, grab it if you feel you need it. But I would definitely not recommend this CD to the average listener. For 12.99 and only five (stale) tracks, there's no reason to waste your time here. Since it was originally a free release, I don't really think there's anything wrong with listening to the tracks on the internet if you're seriously wondering what the CD sounds like, but I assure you that it isn't that great. Seriously ninja, don't even bother.

JRH gives "The House" by Lo Key a: 1.8/5
(Loud, unhindered snoring)

Weak points:
- Uncreative, stale-ass themes that don't change in the slightest
- Twenty minutes of "Hey man, I'mma murda yo ass, in da basement, in da attic", so on and so forth
- There are a lot of great things you can do with 12.99, but buying this CD is not one of them
- Another EP that is so tragically short, you can't help but feel ripped off

Strong points:
- On paper, this EP actually had the potential to be so much better than it turned out, but Lo Key's execution of it is tragically lackluster

Don't waste your time, homies. Think of the children, ninja.

Original cover

Contemporary version with new cover art

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Release", Lo Key album review

Sup, fams. I hope you're having a good day, and thanks for stopping by the blog. Today I'm dropping a Lo Key review on ya.
I've wanted to listen to this CD for a while now, but I think the twenty-strong tracklist was fucking with my head. It ain't an EP, or even a medium-length album. Not in practicality, anyway; it's a fifteen-track CD, but it has five bonus tracks (I'll talk more about that later).
Dropped in 2007, this CD is a collection of rare and unreleased material from Lo Key; well, that's what it's supposed to be. The tracklist for this album is more-or-less exclusive to this CD, but Lo Key has such a habit of intersection and crossing tracks over that you can find some of the tracks on other CDs (Not including, of course, bonus tracks). But in general, the content on this CD is pretty exclusive and doesn't exist anywhere else. With that bit of background, I'm going to jump into the review.

There are two different versions of this album! Details at bottom of review    
I'm going to be posting the album art below as per usual, but the cover art is of an astronaut on another planet, kneeling among unearthly crags, holding a green Lo Key mask. It is in a very realistic art styling, with lots of neat features that draw the attention of the viewer. It is the kind of art that would make one stop in the rap section of an album store, and scrutinize the work.
     On the back of the CD there's a track listing, which doesn't include the bonus tracks or the outro, seeming to cap the album out at fourteen tracks. There's a URL for Infectshop.com, but the URL and website are both capsized, dead, so it's interesting to note that Lo Key hasn't bothered to change the art for the sake of. The cover art is a flap; there's another ad for Infectshop.com on the inside that advertises a bunch of the albums available there. Futile effort, but a relic of the past. The CD art has Lo Key's name and the album title on it, plastered against what looks like wood or perhaps some martian substance. I can't really tell, but it's not very interesting in any case.

     On the surface, this is just another Lo Key CD with a collaborative mess of tracks that may or may not be featured on other releases in the underground. Beyond the surface, it's a mostly collaborative slew of rare and unreleased material, with a lot of remixes thrown in there for good measure. I'm sure some of the tracks here were developed specifically for this album, but they aren't a majority.
     What's the noise? It's pretty good, but not spectacular. A lot of the tracks here seem to fit, in the sense that they would feel strange lingering on other CDs released by Lo Key. For that same reason, a lot of the tracks on this album, while well-produced, don't stand about as particularly great. This album is entertaining for sure, and there are a good handful of gems here that will have you returning to this CD after the first listen. On the other end, it is a vault release, not a studio album, so don't expect to be blown away or anything like that.
     While the above is true, this CD is undoubtedly good. I like a lot of the songs on this CD, and since it's a vault release, the sound can bounce around quite a bit, keeping things fresh and entertaining. It's also one of Lo Key's largest releases, most of his CDs tend to cap at around ten or less tracks, whereas this CD shoots all the way to twenty tracks. While this number is imposing, it is composed of quality content, and is worth your money for sure. I'm sure that whether you're not a fan at all, or owned this since day one, that you'll thoroughly enjoy this CD.
     After the outro, there are five more bonus tracks that were slapped on at the end for whatever reason. I'm unsure exactly why this is a thing, but it's not really unwelcome. I don't think that most people that are listening to Lo for the first time are going are going to buy this CD, but if you were to bring this on a road trip or something, the last five tracks would shake things up quite a bit and introduce the listener to extra flavor from different Lo Key releases. Another note on that; the bonus tracks aren't actually new content, they're just songs pulled from other Lo Key releases and then assembled on the end of the album in no particular order.
That's about all I can say about this piece, fam, but one final note!
The album art originally (Released on 7th Seal Ent.) is different than the current album art. I'm going to post them both below - old first, new last. Other than the front cover, I'm unsure if there are any other aesthetic or even musical changes between the two pressings. I don't own the original copy, so if any ninja who has it wants to hit me up with some deets, feel more then free to do so, fam.

JRH gives "Release" by Lo Key a: 3/5!

Strong points:

- Strong, consistent production
- Wide variety of noise that keeps the CD fresh and interesting
- Lots of good features and collaborations
- Rare, mostly hard-to-find content, which adds a nice novelty to the CD
- The bonus tracks are a good way to capture the attention of someone who hasn't listened to much Lo Key. They're also great if you don't own a lot of Lo Key's work.
- The remixed songs on this CD breathe life into old work, which is something I think a lot of artists neglect to do. That is something that I appreciate especially.
- One of Lo Key's biggest releases - twenty damn tracks! Definitely getting your money's worth, here.
- Great graphics that capture the eye

Weak points:
- Intersection and cross-releasing means that some of the tracks here can already be found on other CDs, which means that they aren't particularly rare anymore

Enjoy your day, kick the fuck back, and hit us with a like, homie!

I actually like the original art better than the re-pressed art.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"W.I.C.K.E.D.", Twiztid album review (With bonus tracks and comic)

Yo yo! What's up ninjas? Today I'm gonna be talking about Twiztid's most widely-received and most commercially-successful album TO DATE! That, motherfackos, is the one and only W.I.C.K.E.D.! I wanna jump right into it! But first, a few things.
*Important notes
I will be reviewing the version with the bonus tracks, not the original plain release
I also have the version with the comic - I might talk about that at a later time and include it in with the graphics section, but right now I will not be discussing it
I do not have the version of W.I.C.K.E.D. with the enhanced disk, so I will not be speaking on it.
Released in 2009, W.I.C.K.E.D. is Twiztid's top-selling and most widely-received album of all time! To date, of course. This makes it a very important entry in their career by default, and this is also shown by the fact that there are four different versions of the album: There is the original fifteen-track version of the album, as well as the version that came with a comic book and was sold exclusively at Hot Topic. Then there is the version that came with an "enhanced CD" which contained some music videos, and lastly the version with three extra bonus tracks on the CD.

This CD has a lot to it. I'll be posting the cover art below, it's a picture of Jamie Madrox and Monoxide Child set against a solid black background. They're rocking suits, Paul is chilling and Madrox is looking ferocious. It's neat, has their logo and the album title on it.
On the back is the track listing, of course, and differs from other versions of the album only in that it has three more tracks listed, since this is the version with three bonus tracks that I will discuss in more detail. The CD cover is a booklet, it has some art in it, and a crap ton of pictures of Monoxide and Madrox. All the production credits are near the back end of the booklet, and there's a cut-out activity on the back of the booklet. I'm not really into those kinds of things, but if you feel like having a paper-mache coffin then you can do that. I'm not sure if the art is consistent across both versions of the CD, though. These CDs also come with one of those Psychopathic trading cards - I'm not really into that, but I think they're cool. Each one comes with a different card potentially, I got Monoxide this time around.
The CD art looks like someone's face, ashen and lips stitched together, with lifeless red eyes. In the CD rest there's art of an old-looking door in a deteriorated house, blood oozing out from the crack between the door and the frame. Wicked is written stylistically on the wall, probably in blood.

This CD is excellent. It's also really different in comparison to other works by Twiztid, even given that all of their work is unique. This is some heavy shit ninja, the CD has some tracks that are just noisy and loud and smash. Killer production, some of these tracks just really get you really excited and belligerent, ready to rip someone's throat out. Of course, a good Samaritan like I would never really condone such violent acts in real life.
     Another great thing about the CD is that while there are many tracks here that are very horrorcore in sound, this album also contains a lot of guitar and heavy guitar, even going to the point where it might be mistaken as metal - screaming and all. Admin isn't the biggest fan of metal - I actually dislike metal quite a bit, but here it seems like a welcome addition among all the murder and madness. Expect some rock and heavy-rock influenced songs. It's one of the factors that helps paint W.I.C.K.E.D. as a very unique entry in their career.
     Like I said before, this is some heavy shit, and not just in the sense that it's really loud and belligerent. There's a real sadistic and unholy presence on this CD, going from torture to the celebration of hell and back, they really let loose on the dark morals this time around. I absolutely love the blatant display of human evil here, and every little detail they added really helped to amplify that feeling of despair and madness. The lyricism goes all over too; songs about suicide, being alone, insanity and so forth; it's not just an hour of mindless murder music. Every song on this album is blessed with great production, and Twiztid went all out on this CD - it shows. I could easily peg this as their darkest release, and that is a really special thing to be able to do.
     There are three bonus tracks on this CD: Catch The Show, Gothic Chick, and It Don't Stop. They are a welcome addition to the album, but there's an issue present here that I think most albums with bonus tracks also suffer from. The end of the album is very conclusive, and the bonus tracks can feel glued on in that respect of things. This is something I think can only be helped so much, since bonus tracks aren't actually structured into the actual content of the original album. Cases where bonus tracks meld in seamlessly with the rest of the album are few and far inbetween, and this isn't one of those rare cases. While it doesn't take away from the ability to enjoy the original tracks on the album, it can feel pretty tacked on, though not exactly to the point of disappointment. On top of that, the extra songs don't really fit in with the rest of the album. The bonus tracks themselves are all good songs musically, even in light of everything else, and are still enjoyable to listen to. You can very much feel the fact that they are additions to the album, and aren't part of the original work.
There are also four versions of the album, so which one is the best? You decide. But I don't recommend getting the plain release, since the other versions aren't much more expensive or hard-to-find. With that last note, I'm going to conclude this review, fams.
I highly recommend this album! It's an absolutely stellar release and deserved all the attention it got! On top of that, it's a unique entry in their career and has a great sound!

"W.I.C.K.E.D." by Twiztid recieves a: 3.8/5!
(It's all good pizza, homie!)

Strong points:
- Strong production with a variety of noise; lots of rock and heavy-rock influences that make the album stand out in Twiztid's career.
- This is a very dark, demonic, and murderous entry in Twiztid's career; moreso than most of Twiztid's other works. It's another reason that the album stands out heavily in Twiztid's career.
- Loud, bumping, and smash as fuck! Belligerent and noisy, this album is really heavy.
- Cool graphics with lots of content, while also being a bit simplistic

Weak points:
- While the bonus tracks are good songs, they don't really fit in with the rest of the album, especially since the outro feels so conclusive. They're tacked-on, but that's not really that big of an issue here.

Thank you for reading my posts, fam. You are all the reason why I keep going forward! Make sure to drop by the page and show us some love!

Friday, July 4, 2014

"A New Nightmare", Twiztid mixtape review

Sup fams. Gonna get right into this time.
     You all remember by now; this mixtape is pretty new. Released last year - technically, it was Twiztid's first release off the label. It was also the duo's first-ever mixtape. Since it'd be Twiztid's first release off the label, it was a spectacle for a lot of the fam. Everyone wanted it or was interested because it was practically going to be a representation of what Twiztid was and would be up to, now that they aren't with Psychopathic. It was recorded during the latter leg of the Abominationz tour, if I'm correct, and features a lot of the guys that were touring with them at the time. There was also a pre-order incentive (That I missed) where they'd sign it if you pre-ordered it. That's about it for that, I'm going to move on now.

This is Twiztid's first mixtape, and as such, was released in a typical mixtape format.
     The cover here is pretty cool. It features Twiztid, in a spiraling staircase, with dark clothing. They're looking up menacingly with fierce looks on their faces, at the viewer. Their name and the mixtape title are on the front aswell.
     On the back is the track listing in red, with a vectored picture of Jamie and Mono's faces against the dark and metallic background, behind the text. Contact information; copyright shit. On the inside of the front flap is the skull logo Twiztid has, pictured upside-down and against another metallic background. CD art is the same as the cover, just on a CD. In the CD rest there's a picture of Twiztid, with a heavy red filter that makes the image look a little glossy. It looks really nice, actually, and might be the coolest graphic on the mixtape. It's also upside-down; I'm assuming you're meant to turn the tape upside-down to see the art correctly.
     There's also a small booklet that comes with the mixtape, inside, that houses a few things. There's a big red curtain on the first flap, announcing "The new full length album by Twzitd", "The moment you've all been waiting for". This is interesting to note - at this point, there still hasn't been a new full-length album by Twiztid. Given that the tape says it's coming soon, I can't help but wonder what they think that means, or when it will come out. On the other flap there's production information for the entire album - the beats, the photography, the features, all that. Adorning the backside is an ad for Twiztid's online website with a collage of a bunch of the gear they have up on there, and the Twitter tag for the shop. The graphics for this mixtape aren't good. They're okay, I've seen better mixtape art for sure, and I don't really own that many mixtapes.
But now I'm going to move on to the part that matters the most - the part I'm looking forward to writing.

If you were paying attention during that debacle that spawned when it came out that Twiztid was leaving Psychopathic Records, you know that this mixtape was going to be seen as a expectation and/or archetype of things to come of the Demented Duo. That said, expectations for this tape were mostly high - it would, after all, be their first release off the label. "What will their new sounds be like?" "How will they fare?" "Is ICP gonna be featured?" "ARE TWIZTID GONNA GO MANESTEAM ZOMG!!!11" and all that assorted mess. But I'm here to give to you straight, a ninja to a ninja, without embellishment. And here I go.
     Not good. You don't need it.
     I'm not sure what was happening during the production of this album. It doesn't feel rushed - it feels like there was a lot of time put into the production of this mixtape. I think what happened - what it seems like to me, is that Twiztid put in a lot of effort trying to make a different sound, a different flavor for the fam. Something fresh and new. But, there's one problem...
     It doesn't really sound all that great.
     There are other issues I have with this mixtape, too.
     It seems like this mixtape jumps all over the place. It's like a whole handful of different subjects just crammed together - the tracklist doesn't flow very well, at all. On top of that, a lot of these songs are just way different, it's not even horrorcore. There are some tracks that are heavy with singing, and that's great on one end. To me, that is fucking awesome. I feel like if you went back to Mostasteless-era and told Monoxide to sing his ass off and hold a high note, he'd tell you to fuck yourself with a screwdriver. It's great that Twiztid got together a bunch of different people and decided to try out some new noise for the fam.
     But on the other end, it just doesn't sound that great! Unfortunately for them, this new approach just doesn't sit right. It doesn't feel like horrorcore; it doesn't sound like wicked shit. Most importantly, it doesn't feel like Twiztid. That might sound really bad, but it's not a be-all-end-all. This tape just doesn't feel right. It's not what I expected, and it's not what I wanted either. It's something else.
     I'm no cynic, though. I had been waiting to review this mixtape for a long time, but I kept dodging it because I felt like it was going to be a chore. Of course, it wasn't terrible. The production is solid. This tape is well-produced, and like I said, it sounds different. Very unique. But unfortunately, it just doesn't ring right. It's just off, and it can't be pinned down to one variable, no one track that is the culprit here.
     The features are good, but they are everywhere. I feel like I saw more features in the track listing than I saw of Twiztid. There are seriously a lot of features on this album, and they're all great rappers. But at times, I feel like they break up the flow of the album. An extra verse by Monoxide or Madrox would have been more welcome than just another feature I don't recognize. This album didn't need all the features it had, and it felt overdone on this mixtape.
     That summarizes all the major feelings I have for this mixtape. I don't think it determines the noise we're gonna hear from Twiztid in the future. I think they're still doing great, and have a long road ahead of them. This entry though, this mixtape? It wasn't stellar; wasn't great; wasn't even good. It's not worth your money, not even worth your time. There are only a few redeeming tracks, but they don't make up for the rest of the content on the CD.
That's it, ninjas. It's old news, but I had to do it.

JRH gives "A New Nightmare" by Twiztid a: 1.7/5
(Nah, homie. No, it doesn't bump...)

Weak points:
- Inconsistent track listing
- Experimental sound is good, but ultimately doesn't sound too great
- Tons of features that kind of break up the flow of the mixtape
- The amount of good tracks stacked up against the rest of the content is primarily why I don't think this tape is worth anyone's time. The tape has a lot of tracks that just aren't good.

Strong points:
- Even though I don't think it sounds great, I think it's really good that Twiztid decided to step outside of what they usually do and try something different. Too bad it turned out like this, though.
- Solid production, and that goes for the whole tape, more-or-less.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

"Sadboys2001", Yung Lean digital mixtape review

Yung Lean? Whodatbe?
Yung Lean (Doer) is a rapper from Europe; Swedish fellow. Lean has a large internet following, but has only been around for about a year. He dropped his first mixtape, which is the one that I am reviewing, only in 2013 (following with another within the same year). He's got a weird steez, and the best way to describe him would be to say that his nonsensical demeanor are intriguing, alluring, and sometimes off-putting. To many eyes, Yung Lean is a part of a trend where rappers/artists make music without serious intent, and are enjoyed primarily for comedic value. One might compare him to Lil B, but to say that they are lyrically similar would be horribly incorrect.
     I had heard his name in passing for a long time, but had dismissed him as just another typical mainstream rapper cat trying to make a quick penny with shitty rehashed themes (Which I had also made the mistake of doing to Lil B), but I will readily admit that I could not have been more wrong. After hearing a bit of this tape and learning a bit more about him, I decided that I'd have to give this tape a listen and then tell you guys about it. With that, I really just want to jump into the review.
The tape has two different covers, both of which I will post at the end of the review.
     There are three people who are to be accredited with the production of this album; Yung Lean, Yung Sherm, and Yung Gud. Together, these three individuals create the Sadboys :( It's all very confusing to learn at first, and it took me a bit to figure it all out. But basically, Yung Lean is the MC on this mixtape consistently (There is only one feature on the whole mixtape) and both Yung Sherm and Yung Gud are the producers for the whole thing. Just to clear that up.
     Yung Sherm and Gud are both awesome producers, and I am very sincere when I say that. It's also really weird - this album doesn't contain the regular boom-clap of mainstream hip-hop, nor the elaborate noise of underground, or really any other regular form of hip-hop. I've heard this compared to trip-hop and vaporwave, but the simplest way that I can describe it is that these beats are electronically-influenced. They ride on an air of subtle electronic ambiance that shines distinctly from what you usually hear, and while peculiar, are very skillfully crafted. Lots of credit towards Sherm and Gud, they really help to bring diversity to this work.
     Yung Lean is peculiar. To say that he is a good MC would not really be a lie, but he is so outside of the norm that what is typically expected in an MC does not apply to Lean. His themes are very out-of-the-norm, he might be rapping about fucking your bitch, but the very next verse is about pissing on the floor. Some of his themes are very stale, and some, even damaging (Like his homophobia), but he blends it with a combination of weird shit that keeps his steez fresh. Given how strange Lean's verses are, combined with good production from Gud and Sherm, it's natural to say that this mixtape is interesting at the very least.
     It's very experimental stuff, and if you like the sound of experimental electronic beats, you'll probably dig the instrumentals. Lean's verses are erratic, and would sound out of place anywhere else but here. I would not recommend this album to someone who wants to hear regular music with clear-cut production and an obvious goal.
     But is this mixtape good, overall? With great production that is severely out of the norm, and lyrical themes that might leave you scratching your head, I'd say that this album might be worth a listen if you're interested in the strange outer-bounds of rap/hip-hop. But this tape is absolutely not for everyone, and if you're just curious, Yung Lean has a multitude of videos online to choose from (YouTube). Personally, if you're curious and not sure if the tape is worth your time, I'd recommend Gatorade, Yoshi City (This track is not on this mixtape), and Ginseng Strip.
     That's all that there really is to say about this album. There's a lot more to say about Lean himself and what he has conjured, but I will leave that to you if you're really that interested. I wouldn't say personally that this album is amazing, but it was a really cool listen that kind of opened my eyes to a wider range of music. Music is whatever you want it to be, and this album really expresses that.

JRH gives "Sadboys2001" by Yung Lean a: 2.5/5

Strong points:
- Great production by Yung Sherm and Yung Gud
- Experimental sound that draws you in
- It's something fresh, something that hasn't quite been done before

Weak points:
- MCs of this kind have a habit of putting some people off just by being so distinctly strange, and it's a common phenomenon for people to be hella confused when it comes to music like this. I could see Yung Lean's fame confusing and aggravating any number of average listeners.
- Due to the strangeness of his lyrics, I could very well see him putting off any number of listeners who come across his work.

That is it ninjas. I hope that I've brought something new to you, something fresh and out of the norm, even if you're not too big on the content itself.

Lean has a penchant for including Japanese characters in his work. Strange, indeed...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

"Trail of Destruction", The Jokerr album review (Digital and physical)

"Trail of Destruction: A Chronicle of Epic Disses"
Well, at least I know what to expect. Wait, no. Actually, let's fix it.
"An Hour's Worth of Bitching: Actually, I'm Sorry I Said All That Shit, Guys"
Rearing its angry head originally in 2012, this album is effectively the Underground Shitstorm of it's time. Spanning (originally) fourteen tracks, this is more-or-less a platform created and used by The Jokerr to diss and upset many artists in the underground scene, some of whom are very well-known, others not-so-much.

*ADDITIONAL NOTE* CDs are as right now being sold with updated album art on the Jokerr's website. If you are interested in grabbing a physical copy then you can actually do that now, check it out: http://www.jokerrmart.com/TRAIL-OF-DESTRUCTION-A-CHRONICLE-OF-EPIC-DISSES--AUTOGRAPHED-PRE-ORDER_p_115.html

     This album fucked The Jokerr up. He took a lot of shit for this, but he also gained a lot of publicity for it, which is probably a positive thing financially. After the damage had been done, he released a song entitled "Dead Horse" which is basically a song apologizing for how much of a dumbass he is and how sorry he is to some of the dudes he ragged on. Anyway, back to the CDs. Since they are now OOP, you can't find them being sold on The Jokerr's website which makes significantly harder to find. Near as I can tell, there are two printed versions that were released on physical copy. The "Peace and Happiness" version, and the "Broken Dreams" version. I got a version of the Peace and Happiness version on eBay - not too expensive, but I lost the bid on the Broken Dreams version. This is the only CD by The Jokerr that I have, but it's not even sold reliably, so finding a physical copy will require some legwork. But don't fear, intrepid traveler! There are still digital copies being sold by The Jokerr, which I had originally bought before I even knew that physical copies existed. It's a lot easier than finding a physical copy, and it'll keep you waiting less. So grab one if you don't feel like waiting for an undefined amount of time. As a last note, the digital copies come with the bonus track "Dead Horse" which is not included on either of the printed versions. With all that out of the way, I'm going to move on to the next section.

Again, there are two printed copies that I know of. I wouldn't be surprised if there were more, but these are the only ones I know about. The "Broken Dreams" version and the "Peace and Happiness" version. I have the latter, so that's the one I'm going to talk about.
In addition, the digital copies have their own art that I'll be posting below.
Peace and Happiness:
This version features a lot of beauty. There's flowers and a bright blue sky, with the words "Trail of Destruction" in nice cursive writing. On the back cover is the track listing, in the same stylized writing, along with a bit of licensing shit and something about "Corvix having a secret penguin sex fetish", whatever that means. The front cover is just a slip, and on the back of the slip is a little poem with a blue sky and sunflowers.
Lyrical law #2
"Carry yourself humbly,
Brag when you're spitting,
Rap how you act,
But never act how you rap."
I'm guessing that on different versions of the CD, Broken Dreams for example, there would be another lyrical law with a separate poem or some shit like that. But I don't know since I don't own it, and I might never own it. There's the CD art, just the title and more blue skies. Nothing in the CD rest - a little minimalistic. That's it for the art. Now to move on to what really matters.

     Speaking in terms of pure production, this album is actually pretty good. Great production, good beats, good lyricism (Most of the time), but not as well executed as it could have been. The idea of an album that is "An Epic Chronicle of Disses" sounds promising and refreshing considering that battle rapping is a dead art, and maybe The Jokerr is bringing something unique to the table, but unfortunately it isn't pulled off well enough to be truly great. My personal feelings of The Jokerr aside, I really have no idea what he was thinking when he dropped this. It brought him a lot of heat and fucked him up quite a bit. Then he tried to take the words out of the air, but it's like pouring out a bottle of shampoo and then trying to put it all back in with your hands. It ain't happenin'.
     On top of that, some of this shit is really petty. Often times The Jokerr runs out of legitimate disses for the artist he wants to crack on, so he goes middle school mode. He makes fun of physical appearances, says irrelevant homophobic shit, stuff like that. The idea of having a CD containing only disses seems promising, but Jokerr manages to mess it up with his childish attitude.
    The track list is okay, but it sometimes feels as though The Jokerr is just saying hateful shit but not actually directing it towards anyone in particular. Since he wanted this to be a full album, he just made a rambling track to fill in the gaps between actual disses to try and keep the listener entertained. It kind of works, but you can totally feel the fact that he's just trying to fill in gaps to keep the album length.
     On a more positive note, some of these disses are very heated and smash, aimed at specific people, and are very well-produced. Examples would be "Sidekick", "Permanent Enemy", and "The Maestro". I will also note at this point that there are two versions of the song "Sidekick", the studio version that has a really slanderous phone call between The Jokerr and Hopsin at the end (Which was torn down from YouTube), and then the current YouTube version that's up right now. These tracks are really good, but I also can't help feeling that they outshine other tracks on the list that are less extravagent. Regardless, while the gems outshine the other tracks, most of the CD is actually good. The beats bounce and hop all over the place, and there's a lot of variety lyrically and musically throughout the album. Some of the tracks are really orchestrated too, like "Sidekick" and "Dead Horse" which feature classical instruments that really define the songs that they're in.
      Again, "Dead Horse" is only on the digital version since the printed CDs came out before the track did (The new CDs actually have this track, as well as another bonus track). It's weird to hear Dead Horse after all the other tracks since it's very apologetic, when just a few minutes before he was dissing those same artists. While The Jokerr's demeanor leaves something to be desired, the CD is very much solid musically.. I have to mention the long monologues about his personal hatred for the artists he disses, where he goes on and on about the record labels are evil and the rappers are hypocrites. It's cute, but as a consumer who doesn't even listen to the artists he's flaming, I really do not give a single fuck. On top of that, it makes The Jokerr look like a douche because these monologues are just accusations and laments about things that have nothing to do with him artistically. It's just extra bullshit that makes The Jokerr look foolish.
     I'm going to get wrapping up on this and end with a few last things. You don't need this, especially if you're looking for the physical copy. It's too annoying to find and the digital copy is the definitive one, whereas the printed copies are more like drafts. If you feed off hatred, get this album. If you're not interested in dramatic bullshit between artists, save your money and just go look at the cool songs on YouTube. Most of the good songs on this album have videos up for them anyway. While Trail of Destruction is blessed with good production, Jokerr's petty attitude, inflated ego, and inane monologues drag the rest of the album down in the muck, creating a layer of grime that can't be scratched off even with the added Dead Horse track. There are really only a few songs I know I'm going to be coming back to, and this album doesn't make me feel any better about The Jokerr as an artist. With that final word, I conclude this review.

JRH gives "Trail of Destruction: A Chronicle of Epic Disses" by The Jokerr a: 2.3/5

Strong points:
- Strong production
- Few gems on the album that are really impressive
- Good lyricism, good singing
- Cool art for the printed version

Weak points:
- The fact that he took down the CDs and made modifications to the tracks just brings light to the fact that this album is tinged with bitter regret about the shit he said
-All of the filler breaks up the flow of the album
- While The Jokerr is a skilled rapper, his creativity on this album is often constrained to petty insults and quips
- Annoying egotistical monologues breaks up the flow of the album

That's it, ninjas. You don't need this shit, but there are some nice bits on it. Now for the art:

This is the version that I have. Notice that the quality isn't great - I couldn't find an actual scanned digital copy of the cover art. If a ninja can hook me up with a picture, I'll toss two whoops your way and give you some credit.

This the the Broken Dreams cover, present on the other pressed copy of this album.

This is the digital art that I got with the downloaded version of this album, from his website. Might have been his Bandcamp, I'm not entirely sure.

This is an alternate cover for the album. I'm not sure where it was used - promotional, printed copy, or otherwise. But it's out there, for whatever reason.

Another alternate cover for the album. Again I am not sure what it was used for exactly, but if anyone has details on it, I'll be happy to include some more detailed information on this review.

This is promotional art for the diss track "The Real One" aimed at Tha Joker; the tenth track on the CD and digital copy. It's not the cover art for any version of the album, but it was cool art so I figured I'd add it to the review.

Friday, June 13, 2014

"Eye of the Storm", Insane Clown Posse EP review

I'll start by saying I underestimated this EP hard. This is a classic case of "Don't judge a book by it's cover" - the art for this piece isn't very pretty, which immediately made me feel like the production would be a bit shoddy. It's instinct, but I was completely wrong. This EP is great. Released in 2007, this EP comes directly after The Tempest and before Bang! Pow! Boom! in 2009. I'm not sure how well it was received among the Juggalos, but apparently physical copies weren't distributed worldwide - only through Hatchetgear. That might speak of it's reception, but I couldn't quite tell you exactly. Now, I'm going to jump into the physical section before I continue.

This cover art catches the eye, but only to the extent that you'd see it and say "What the fuck is that?" Actually, the album art isn't that bad - I've seen worse for sure. But when you look at it, you don't quite think of a CD that was big or popular - it doesn't strike itself to the eye as something of amazing quality. I don't quite think it was supposed to be, either, this CD is just an EP with outtakes from The Tempest as well as some original content. It wasn't meant to be a bomb-ass no-holds barred kind of thing, but still, the art doesn't particularly grab me in a pleasing way.
     The art consists of a giant eyeball in one of those fortune teller machines. At the top of the stand are the words "Ask The Eye!", and beneath the eyeball are the words "Eye of the Storm". There's other stuff on the machine too, like ICP's name, but I'll be posting it below. On the back you have a track listing - it's an eight-track EP, along with licensing shit.
     I was excited when I noticed that the cover art was also a small booklet, but less so when I discovered it was just advertisements for other stuff ICP was doing at the time. An ad for JCW wrestling is on the left and there's information for the 2007 Hallowicked tour. There's production credits for the album on the back of the booklet, and then the CD on the right has a track listing around the rim along with the CD title and the group title. There's a red Hatchetman in the CD rest.

At first glance, this CD might not look like much at all. But this CD is so much more than first glance - it has really awesome production and a smash lineup of awesome tracks that'll keep you coming back to their wicked deliciousness. I can tell you that I was very entertained listening to this CD, and I got it on the cheap too. Insane Clown Posse EPs are strangely cheap on Amazon - so check it the fuck out! It's not like the tracks here were rejected from The Tempest because they sucked - they just didn't fit in with the rest of the CD, so they ended up here, and that is evident when you listen to this. These tracks are smash as hell, they vary in content, and carry with them entertaining cuts that hop and bounce all over the place. There are some tracks that have a rock/hard rock element to them, while others carry that nutty insane vibe that ICP is known for, but it all comes fluidly together on this CD and it's all good content.
     If you're a fan of Insane Clown Posse, I'd highly recommend this EP to you. All the tracks on this EP are good, and are filled with lots of gems that you'll be listening to long after you get the EP. I know for sure that this won't be my last encounter with this CD - I'll be bumping some of these pieces for a long time. This is just a dope CD through-and-through, and stands and an exemplar of ICP's work, especially regarding their EPs. The EP bumps, and I highly recommend this to any Juggalo - especially considering that you can find it on the cheap really easily. For the price tag - it's hella worth it, my ninja.

JRH gives "Eye of the Storm" by Insane Clown Posse a: 4/5!
(It bumps my ninja, it bumps!)

Strong points:
- Smash tracks!
- Stellar production
- ICP delivers on fun, crazy and theatrical tracks that don't fail to entertain
- I like the inclusion of different musical styles on this CD (Rock elements and rap elements)
- Lots of gems that give this CD a lasting value among the ninjas
- Cool to listen to track that were cut from The Tempest
- Fresh as fuck my ninja can I say any more?

Weak points:
- The album art made me underestimate this CD for sure, and is probably the biggest weak point in comparison to how good the rest of this CD is

Not terrible art, but not great art either...

Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Jack Yo Beatz 2", Lo Key EP review

"We jackin' yo beatz, so fuck all of y'all...
And if you got beef, then we rockin' ya jaw..."
     This is the second entry in the Jack Yo Beatz series, originally released in 2006. Apparently it was released right after SO-LO was, to help promote it. It was originally released as a free download, and then was released in a slim case in 2007 - moved up to jewel case in 2008, and became the version we all know and love in 2009 - the current one. This EP is ridiculously short, so I'm going to go ahead and get moving on it.

Much like the first entry in the Jack Yo Beatz series, the album art changes across the spectrum of different releases this album has seen. Below I will list the different releases it has seen and what that means for the art. In terms of music, I believe all four releases are composed of the same content.
     The first release, in 2006, has a different cover than the 2007 re-release. You'll see it below with the rest of the art.
     The second release - the slim case release (2007), actually shares the same cover art as the 2008 press which came with a jewel case.
     The final 2009 pressing shares the same skull and AK design as the first release, except that instead of red lettering, it has green lettering. The only real differences between the two are the coloring of the lettering and the track listing (Which is on the back), as far as art goes. It has the same Infectshop insert on the inside, and again the cover art is just a slip. The CD art is identical to the first Jack Yo Beatz, but with green lettering and an added "2" as a part of the title.

     This CD wasn't great. It's similar to the last one - lots of modified pop beats that Lo Key jacks and uses as the foundation for the songs on this EP. There are five tracks literally, but the intro is nine seconds long, so it's more like four tracks. The rest of the tracks are around three-and-a-half minutes long, and, this might have been the shortest CD I've ever listened to. Like, in my life. The fact that this CD is able to move itself at all - in any iota, is actually kind of surprising. Basically, I want to stress that you're paying (Unless you grab it on sale) 12.99 for four tracks of content. Not really worth it.
     Besides the tragically short length of this CD, what about the content of the CD itself? It's not terrible, but not actually good either. At its peak, it's good; but across all four tracks, it's mediocre at best. Considering that there are four tracks, the potential for greatness is rather low, and while the good tracks shine, they are dulled by the severe lack of content on the CD itself. I personally enjoy two out of the four tracks on this CD, and I'm fairly sure that they're exclusive to this CD only (Save for remixes), but that still doesn't justify the pricing. Overall, I'd say that none of these tracks stand out as amazing - even though some are pretty good. I would not recommend this CD to anyone - unless you're big on collecting and you really like Lo Key's work. In that case, there will be something here for you - just not much.
Yo ninjas: You're better off just getting the first entry in the "Jack Yo Beatz" series. Don't even waste your time or money on this one - unless Lo Key is selling it significantly cheaper or something.

JRH gives "Jack Yo Beatz 2" by Lo Key a: 1.3/5!
(I think Lo Key just broke the record for lowest JRH score...)

Good points:
- Eh, it has cool album art I guess
That's about it

Bad points:
- Who the fuck is going to to pay 12.99 for a four-track CD
- Oh wait I did. But seriously that is a pretty terrible price
- Nothing too fantastic here
- Only one or two good tracks depending on what you like
- This CD feels, looks and smells like a cash-out; it should have probably been kept free. Even as much as I love physical copies, this is probably not even worth the price of production, much less the price of purchase

And that's that ninjas. Lo Key has taken the lead for worst CD score - do you think it's possible to get any lower than a 1.3?!?! I don't know, but I'd say that it'd be really difficult to do...

Shit, it looks like someone made this image in paint and then added the bottom text in Roflbot. This is utterly terrible.

This EP is different than the first one in that the second iteration of the cover art is actually better than the first one.

Final 2009 repressing

Monday, May 26, 2014

"Jack Yo Beatz", Lo Key EP review

     If you're a fan of Lo Key, you've probably heard content from the Jack Yo Beatz EPs. As the title implies, Lo Key steals beats from other music as a foundation for his rap. The beats are mostly pop music beats edited to fit the style Lo Key wants for the track. I'm unsure whether Lo Key edits the beats themselves and just steals the general sound, or if all the beats on the CD were created by other people. Either way, the melodies/beats sound very familiar as they're from popular pop music, but you can tell there's been additional stuff done to the beat.
     This was originally released in 2005 as a free download, and was later issued from 7th Seal Entertainment with the same cover in a slim case in 2007. Skip a year, it was reissued with a different cover, skip another year, and you have the modern cover that's being used right now. These EPs are very short, and they're the kind of CD you'd hand to a friend if he wanted to know more about Lo Key. With that, I'm going to move onto the next section.

Each version of the album has its own cover art, more or less. In the album art section at the end of the post, I will post the art chronologically and label it.
     The 2005 free download version and the 2007 slim-case version have the same cover. I'll be posting it below. I don't know what the rest of the art looks like, just the cover.
     In 2008, the art changed to a completely different cover with Lo Key, without anything on his face. This is interesting because I don't even think I'd seen Lo Key's face in full prior to this cover, except on "The Last Gathering", which I know near-nothing about. I don't have it, so I can't talk about the other aspects of its graphics - you'll see the cover below.
I do not own the 2007 or 2008 covers, so I have no ideas of the differences between them except for their covers. That is why I am not speaking much on them.
     Lastly, the 2009 cover, the current one. This is the one I have, and the one I can talk about the most. It features a skull, missing the jaw, with two AK-47s on both sides of it pointing in opposite directions. His name is at the top, in what looks like stylized spray paint, and the EP name is at the bottom, stylized in the same fashion. On the back is a track list against a white background, with the track names done in the same style as the rest of the lettering. There's a URL for Infectmusic.com (Which no longer exists, by the way) at the bottom, too.
     The EP cover is just a slip, and on the other side there's an ad for Infectshop with a litany of work I would assume was on sale at the time. This ad is interesting for a number of reasons, but I won't bore you guys with the details. The CD art is the same stuff from the cover, fit to a disc. Nothing in the CD rest. For this CD, the art isn't too elaborate, and it doesn't really need to be, either. The cover's pretty nice, but the art isn't spectacular for this version.

     This CD has some great music, but is also seven songs long and priced at 12.99 plus shipping. The intro is only seventeen seconds long, so more like six tracks long. Of those six tracks there are probably going to be songs you like and songs you aren't fawning over - that's the reality of it
      The production consists of re-engineered pop beats modified for rap, with Lo Key and some features spitting over them. I don't recognize all the beats, but I assume none are completely original. The beats are, generally speaking, very interesting to listen to and are eclectic with their vibe, they kind of spin all over the place with no particular pattern. It makes the tracks varied and fun to listen to, and is part of what makes the CD entertaining. At the same time, the tracks don't seem to have much of a flow either. It's like a bunch of files were just dropped onto a CD and that was that. Also consider the fact that some of this CD's content is featured on other releases - "2 Sick" is also on a Madd Maxxx releases entitled "Sick Hop", "Pump Pump" is featured on a bunch of different CDs and under different names, and some of these songs are also featured on The Best Of Lo Key CD. The track "Drastic" was edited and is different from the older version, and besides that the musical content of the CDs is the same.
     Overall, though, the songs that are on this album are pretty smash. Most of them, a good 4/6, I enjoy heartily. The rest are alright, and I guess they're cool to listen to if you're in the mood for them. But to be dead honest with you, while this EP has a few great songs on it, it's not an amazing EP. You don't need this EP, and if you're a broke ninja you probably don't want to be shelling out 12.99 plus shipping for a CD that's not only an EP, but will likely only have a few songs you really like. I won't tell you to avoid this EP like the plague, but considering the fact that it only has a few good songs and is expensive - especially for an EP, you might just be better off getting it on the internet or something. I'm sure you could buy it digitally for cheaper than that. I hope I've painted a good picture of what this EP is like for everyone, and I hope you've enjoyed the review.

JRH gives "Jack Yo Beatz" by Lo Key a: 2.7/5

Strong points:
- Good lyricism, good features
- Beats are very unconventional, makes the album unique
- Some pretty dope songs on this CD, songs I know I'll come back to the CD for

Weak points:
- Incredibly short, and for 12.99 too
- No particular flow with the track listing
> 12.99 price tag
- EP has some good songs, but not every song is great, which is okay for an album - but it really stands out on an EP

2005 download version and 2007 slim-case version

2008 cover, jewel case

2009 reissue - contemporary version, and the one I have