I must confess . . .
. . . that all of the Beach Boys albums post-1973 suck. The last few albums before this period are somewhat hit or miss but more hit than miss. They took a break from ’73 to ’76 and after that there are usually only one or two good songs per album.
. . . that all of the Cypress Hill albums post-1995 suck. That means they made more bad albums than good even though producer DJ Muggs continued to make good solo albums outside of the group.
. . . that Grand Theft Auto IV is the most overrated game ever. I’m about 2/3 (just an estimate) through the game. The fucking hype machine for this game must have tricked all of the fucking video game reviewers, who are the lowest scum in all of journalism, because MANY of them gave the game a perfect score and said it was the best thing since Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Then these same journalists apparently turned on the game in a matter of about 6 months and most of them gave ‘Fallout 3’ their game of the year nods, even though its average score is much lower than GTA’s. Ugh. In my view, a perfect score means the game is perfect in every way, which means I should never come across a glitch. Well, the game isn’t as glitchy as the PS2 GTA’s but there are definitely inconsistencies. And the game is much more of a Hitman game than GTA in that almost every mission is an assassination. Seriously, almost every one. I’m sure it sounds like I dislike the game but that’s not true at all. It’s really an amazing game and has one of the better stories I’ve experienced in a game but really the missions seem rather limited. I doubt GTA IV will replace GTA: San Andreas as my favorite GTA game. What I’m really hoping for is that Rockstar uses the GTA IV engine and makes a game that’s as sprawling and varied as San Andreas was. Or a Bully 2! Have I mentioned how great Bully was?!? Ten times the charm of any GTA game.
Posted in music, video games
Tagged beach boys, bully, Cypress Hill, dj muggs, fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, gta iv, Rockstar Games, video game journalists
DJ MUGGS VS SICK JACKEN FEATURING CYNIC – THE LEGEND OF THE MASK AND THE ASSASSIN (Latino Universal, 2007)
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 (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? (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
Posted in music, reviews
Tagged aesop rock, Bazooka Tooth, Blockhead, China, Chinese instruments, conspiracies, Cynic, Cypress Hill, definitive jux, dj muggs, hip hop, Illuminati, Legend of the Mask and the Assassin, MF Doom, MM...Food?, None Shall Pass, Phases of the Moon, Psycho Realm, Rhymesayers, Sick Jacken, Soul Assassins, Stones Throw, Street Platoon, traditional Chinese music
The Soul Assassins were a crew of hip-hop artists under the guidance of Cypress Hill’s DJ/producer, Muggs. The main groups associated with Soul Assassins were Cypress Hill, House of Pain and Funkdoobiest. All three groups consisted of the following line-up: a lead MC that rapped 90% of the time, a useless 2nd MC that just repeated lines here and there, and a DJ. All three groups incorporated their ethnicity into their image and lyrics, even if it wasn’t always necessarily true. Cypress Hill has always been presented as a Hispanic group but Muggs himself is a NYC Italian. House of Pain’s DJ Lethal is LATVIAN! not Italian.
All of the beats were either by Muggs, the group’s DJ’s, or a dude named T-Ray, but they were all in Muggs’ style. This situation reminds me of the old days of Image Comics when guys like Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld would hire up and coming artists and make them draw just like Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld. House of Pain and Funkdoobiest each released 2 albums before they tired of Muggs basically being in charge of their albums and left Soul Assassins. Other artists, including Fatal, The Whooliganz and Call o’ Da Wild joined Soul Assassins but none of them could secure record deals. In 1997, Muggs released a solo album under the Soul Assassins name, featuring heavy hitting MCs of the day like RZA and Dr. Dre. In the end, this proved to be the last good Soul Assassins album, as Cypress Hill became lame only a year later with synthesizer beatz. Still, the Soul Assassins albums from 1991-1997 are all very good and represent an interesting period in hip-hop.
1991 Cypress Hill
1992 House of Pain
1993 Which Doobie U B? by Funkdoobiest
1993 Black Sunday by Cypress Hill
1994 Same As It Ever Was by House of Pain
1995 Brothas Doobie by Funkdoobiest
1995 Cypress Hill III: Temples of Boom
1996 Unreleased & Revamped by Cypress Hill
1997 Muggs Presents the Soul Assassins Chapter 1
Posted in history, music, reviews
Tagged artists, Black Sunday, Brothas Doobie, Call o' Da Wild, Cypress Hill, Cypress Hill III: Temples of Boom, DJ, DJ Lethal, Dr. Dre, Fatal, Funkdoobiest, hip hop, Hispanic, House of Pain, Image Comics, Italian, Latvian, MC, Muggs, Muggs Present the Soul Assassins Chapter 1, NYC, NYC Italian, rob liefeld, RZA, Same As It Ever Was, Soul Assassins, synthesizer, T-Ray, The Soul Assassins, Todd McFarlane, Unreleased & Revamped by Cypress Hill, Which Doobie U B, Whooliganz