Muzik eRRRRviewz Part IV: Miyagi-san tai Clubber Lang

Remember my recent post about the Soul Assassins? Remember the part where I said it all went stale after 1997? Well, that’s not exactly true. It’s true that Cypress Hill basically went south starting in 1998 but Muggs’ outside activities have typically been of a higher quality, peaking with this herrrrrre album, a teamup that makes all fans of latino gangster rap tremble in their boots. We get Muggs on the boards with probably his most interesting beats in a decade and we get Sick Jacken of legendary, mega thuggish group Psycho Realm on the mic. For good measure, Street Platoon MC Cynic is also featured throughout and he manages to steal the show on several occasions with his grumbling delivery. The strongest aspect of the album is the beatz. Muggs seems to have grown out of his cheesy synths stage and made it to whatever this stage can be called. There are still some synths but there are a lot of samples and a whole bag of audio tricks. In the glory days of Soul Assassins, Muggs’ beats were always really repetitive with the only variety usually coming in occasional rests in the drumline. The beats on this album are much denser and possess surprising variety. There are distinguishable sections within the songs and elements come and go. Muggs thinks about the box by leaving drums off one song completely. Like some other recent hip-hop albums, this one has a theme: ILLUMINATI CONSPIRACIES. That’s a hell of a lot more interesting than drugs and hoes, even if Sick Jacken’s grasp of world politics might be DELUDED. The group makes several references to the most insane of conspiracy theories, including the recently created myth that most of the world’s leaders belong to a race of half-human, half-reptilian beings that can change between human and reptile at will, due to their mixed DNA (THAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY FUCKING SENSE). Anyway, it’s still fun even if it’s ridiculous and retarded. With Muggs providing all the beats and the lyrical theme that runs throughoug the album, THE LEGEND OF THE MASK AND ASSASSIN is much more cohesive than most hip-hop discs. Do it to it 2007. Grade: A

aesop rock none shall pass album art
AESOP ROCK – NONE SHALL PASS (Definitive Jux, 2007)
I don’t know, man. On the one hand, this is a pretty solid album. On the other hand, I feel like I’ve heard it before. If you’ve heard BAZOOKA TOOTH, then I guess you know what to expect. On Rock’s first few albums, he slowly took over more and more production duties from collaborator Blockhead until he produced about 3/4ths of BAZOOKA TOOTH. This represented growth as an artist and he was making beats as creative and progressive as anyone. Fast forward four whole fucking years to NONE SHALL PASS and we’re greeted with a less ambitious Aesop, producing less than half of the album and letting Blockhead create much of the other half. This is a shame mainly because Rock’s beats are once again better than Blockhead’s. And really, all the beats either of them make, save one, sound like they could have been released on the previous album. The exception is a track where Rock lets REAL LIVE musicians lay down some sweet distorted bass. Hey, if he needs to work with live music then so be it. The album’s closer features singing by the Mountain Goats guy, which is a bit mixed. I mean, the guy’s a shitty singer but the melody over the slamming beat piqued my interest. Maybe Rock should produce some beats for singerz next time? Grade: B

MF DOOM mm food album art
MF DOOM – MM . . . FOOD? (Rhymesayers, 2004)
Another day, another boss Doom album. The beats AND the rhymes are provided by Doom throughout with a few exceptions. As usual, the lyrics deal with nerdy stuff, women, and African-American issues. There are many, many soundbites from what appear to be Fantastic Four cartoons or books on tape, way more than appeared on the Madvillain album. We get it! You’re Dr. Doom! Okay! There are ALSO several soundbites from some character that appears to be some sort of backwoods hillbilly with a drug problem? I dunno. They clash with the super hero clips and hurt the cohesiveness of the album. Most of the beats are very strong and a select few are awesome, not because of clever, multilayered mixing, but because Doom found passages within songs that are perfect for looping. This is one of those albums that’s much more attractive to fans of alternative rock than fans of standard hip-hop. Grade: B+

phases of the moon chinese traditional music
I checked out a bunch of Chinese traditional music CDs on Amazon last year but it took the Beijing Olympix to remind me to actually buy them. The liner notes in this CD aren’t the greatest but it appears the album was recorded in the 1980s. It features traditional Chinese melodies representing several ethnic groups performed by the Central Broadcasting Traditional Instruments Orchestra. China does not actually have an orchestral tradition of its own so the music presented isn’t strictly traditional but it IS very Chinese. As the orchestra’s name implies, Chinese traditional instruments are used but in a large orchestra. The results are great. A lot of the music doesn’t make perfect sense according to my Western sensibilities but it’s all very listenable and much of it is highly enjoyable. A few of the pieces are highly melodic and emotive. Probably not for everyone but I liked it. Grade: A


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