Tag Archives: Raekwon

Operation Doom Discography-2006-2017: The Good, The Meh, and The Almost Classic

Operation Doom Discography-2006-2017: The Good, The Meh, and The Almost Classic

by Dan-O

 

The Good:

JJ Doom- I knew this album wasn’t for me early in the listening experience. The production style doesn’t fit.  It is very post-Gorillaz (Damon Albarn guests along with Beth Gibbons from Portishead) in its cold robotic bass burbles. Jneiro Jarel is very good at his sound. You can play the wordless Viberian Sun pt. II and understand the value of talent on display. Doom more than matches it. The disjointed nature of the beats just puts him a little off. He knows the pocket of any soul sample better than he does this. All that being said he still rises to the occasion: he starts the last song (Wash Your Hands) with ” Ooh, she got a cool body, damn she got a cool body/What I’m a tell you what to do with your hands for?/Much less your dirty @$$ shoes on the dancefloor?” This is full on grouchy doom warning you about the dangers of drinking tap water and giving you odd takes on gender(“There they go feminizing men again/Then pretend they don’t know when we know it, xenoestrogen.” From GMO). If you enjoy Doom you should listen to it and you might like it more than I do if you are into a more slick alternative version of hip hop production.

The Meh:

NehruvianDoom-I was very excited to hear this collaboration. I am a fan of Nehru and would say he’s an underrated talent. Doom handles the production on all but one track so we are back in that soulful comfort zone. Bishop is a top notch rapper but his lack of theme gives the lyrics presented here a freestyle feel. To put it bluntly: he ain’t Doom. Any project that says DOOM and doesn’t feature enough verses from Doom isn’t great. This one isn’t great. The whole album is surprisingly sleepy and ultimately unimportant. While Jneiro Jarel has (what I would view as) talent oppositional to Doom’s Nehru and Doom make each other boring somehow.

The Almost Classic.

Every truly great rap artist with a reasonably sized career has an almost classic. Jay has Vol. 1, 2pac has his first album 2pacalypse Now, Pete Rock & CL Smooth have The Main Ingredient (the single best example of an almost classic). Definition: everything is right except something which is very wrong. You need to own Born Like This so you can hear J Dilla & Doom collaborate for two of the most gripping moments in the history of music. Gazzilliion Ear  & Lightworks are deadly serious as the master mad scientists push one another: the beat twists and Doom adjusts. It’s not just Dilla, Absolutely is the crackling warm minimal vinyl Madlib groove at its finest. Jake One gives the biggest and best of his boom bap on the one minute and thirty second Ballskin where Doom burns the whole world down with his bars. The guests give the best of themselves and honestly I think Impress Stahhr Tha Femcee(Still Dope) outdoes Ghostface, Raekwon, Slug and anyone else not named DOOM.

The problem is the horribly wrong minded skit Batty Boyz which is unflinchingly homophobic and I just realized that I have a strange British version of the album which follows Batty Boyz with a doubling down on homophobia and transphobia. A song called Costume Foolery which is cut out of the US retail version but tucks in right behind Batty Boyz on my version. It really reaffirms that the skit wasn’t a fluke and Doom has problems with this subject, making a terrible gay voice and clowning man purses. I am of two minds on this: I don’t want to support anyone who makes it harder for oppressed communities or discriminates against any community but I also adore free speech. I don’t really believe in shutting down inappropriate conversation (I am not listening to Nazi rock bands do not take me to extremes). Doom starts the song CELLZ with a reading of Charles Bukowski’s Born Like This poem which gives this album it’s title. I think it is valuable to hear Bukowski read this in the context of Doom. The poem is about the mutating “sourful deadliness” that comes from a lack of good in the world or as Bukowski puts it an “unresponsive god.” The sharp edges of Doom stab us from that very place. Doom is not a villain for fun he is a response to deep scarring we should explore with him in all its ugliness. I’m sure he wouldn’t blame me for letting that ugliness dock points from the overall experience.

 

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Song review-See a Key(Ki’) by Skyzoo featuring Jadakiss produced by Thelonius Martin

Song review-See a Key(Ki’) by Skyzoo featuring Jadakiss produced by Thelonius Martin

by Dan-O

The narrative that NY hip hop is dead has been bolstered by the poor sales of Troy Ave’s album Major Without A Deal (which you won’t catch me writing about, I don’t kick people when they are down), but it’s still false. This year has seen a slew of important NY releases: Ka, Action Bronson, Raekwon, and Ghostface. These albums did more than “keep up the tradition” they were sonically unique and took the sound you were used too in a different direction. So why does that narrative persist? NY started EVERYTHING. Of course it’s not what it once was since it used to be EVERYTHING. We now have hip hop in London, Cleveland, Huntsville, etc and that’s great. We still have a rich buffet of NY hip hop but we have other options as well.

So Skyzoo has a new album Music For My Friends which showcases everything you love about him(and the traditional hip hop that is supposed to have passed). His lyrics have a Jeet Kune Do (#knowBruceLee) adaptability, dense and light at the same time. Always intensely thoughtful but able to chuckle and joke at the same time. Loose and dangerous is how Sky works best, at his worst he’s lost in his mind and at his best he’s lost in the music. Music For My Friends has the sonic template he loves, very specifically the boom bap Primo trafficked in; powerful drums and bass all conducted with a jazz ear. All the other sounds set off and ripple like a stone skipped on water; just the way Coltrane’s Naima feels. That’s what makes the album so good; if you just want a banger here you go. Jadakiss is sharp as ever (“when you don’t recognize your blessings you send them away” DAMN!) and if you want this song to be more about drugs than dreaming you can hear it that way. The cool thing is it’s not. For lyrics heads we can read Sky’s lyrics and find triple meanings among the Jazzmatazz of it all. That complexity of lyricism tracks back to New York and it still lives there.

Song Review-I Got Money by Raekwon featuring A$AP Rocky produced by S1

Song Review-I Got Money by Raekwon featuring A$AP Rocky produced by S1

by Dan-O

Raekwon’s 2015 album could be called Raekwon and Friends(it’s called Fly International Luxurious Art) for all the guests it carries (12 guests 13 total tracks) and a lot of reviewers have pointed out that its disjointed and not The Chef’s best work but it is interesting to hear him play off of other MC’s. Rae and Ghost are the last two Wu-Tang affiliates still sharpening their swords in 2015 and anyone who jumps on a song takes it seriously.

Sonically Rae is looking to evolve his East Coast gritty classic sound into something a bit livelier, and give him credit for knowing that’s something that needs to happen, he is picking the best beats in the Wu at this point and still murders verses. If you’re an old head you will love F.I.L.A.but be ready to catch verses from new school cats like 2 Chainz, Rick Ross and French Montana. While old heads might not respect some of these dudes Rae does and doesn’t seem to care about the generational difference. He who spits can spit.

This song totally supports my A$AP Rocky theory that the narrative about how interesting it is that he’s from NY and likes to make Southern Trap style stuff is holding him back. A$AP always sounds more interesting (to me) on a well-made East Coast beat than doing his own spin on trap. Raekwon has his own universe where every verse is smooth and smart; the imagery is always surprising and that environment is a place every rapper wants a guest spot. If you hate A$AP Rocky this isn’t the Rocky you hate and now you have to rethink what he’s capable of. The Chef knew the whole time and that’s why F.I.L.A. remains interesting a few listens in, cause when he does a song with 2 Chainz (F.I.L.A. World) its cause he bought weed off him when his name was Tity Boi and always knew he’d be star, back when all of us were stuck at “Why would you name yourself Tity Boi?”

Mixtape Review-Vado- Slime Flu 4

Mixtape Review-Vado- Slime Flu 4

by Dan-O

If New York hip hop is in recovery it’s a relatively joyless one. While people like Ka and Roc Marciano release great music, the popular sound of New York is the practiced and insincere NY trap of A$ap Ferg and the like. In the world of mixtapes we get mostly questions: where did Lloyd Banks go, why has Cam’ron had a mixtape cover in the coming soon section of datpiff all year?

In the past few years the only consistent things in the world of NY mixtapes have been Troy Ave who floods the market with his own product as well as the very listenable BSB crew compilations and Vado. For his part last year, Vado put out one of the truly remarkable time machine goon rap mixtapes in Slime Flu 3. It had great movie and TV show samples, sludgy slamming beats with odd references. It was the kind of mixtape that felt like it didn’t care about an audience, it has an identity and if you don’t like it… too bad.

Somehow volume 4 is even slimier and more gooned out. Its 19 tracks with four horrible skits featuring every NY participant you can think of (Raekwon, Jadakiss, French Montana, Chinx Drugz, Troy Ave, Maino, Lloyd Banks, Uncle Murda, Noreaga, air horns, Smoke Dza, and Fabolous). When I first heard the terrible skits where two men argue stupidly like Spike Lee characters I couldn’t help but smile. What would a great NY mixtape be without bad skits? Maybe I am part of an older generation but NY rap to me always sounded like the first three Mobb Deep albums or Cormega seeking revenge or G Rap in a Carhartt jacket spitting like it was a warning. Slime Flu 4 leaves no doubt this is the lineage of Vado. Is there a more NY verse than “Target practice shoot any, I aim shot em. Army jacket blue yankee with grey bottoms. You ain’t me if you ain’t Harlem (American Gangster),” what other region would shoot you and tell you what they are wearing?

In a lot of ways Slime Flu 4 is a funhouse mirror of styles that run through east coast rap. Kopy is very much a French Montana song with that radio friendly swaying hook to it. Heard U features Yo Gotti and sounds like Vado fitting his sound into a Trap-A-Holics framework where the horns lead you to the bounce instead of the sludge bap thump overcoming you. Straight For The Summer has Kirko Bangz doing his Texas rap Jodeci hook while Fab and Vado lay raps about ladies in fur coats and high heels.

The high points stick with you after listening to Slime Flu 4, many from its back half. Chest beating local anthem The Town features a great Maino verse that actually overwhelms Lloyd Banks. R.N.S. has chemistry beyond posse track. Jada, Troy Ave and Vado fit like a glove together; Troy Ave with his natural 50 Cent-like ability with hooks fits snugly between Vado and Jada as they talk about living cigar life and being ten steps ahead. It feels like Jada is excited for his verse because he’s thrilled this music is still around. For anyone doubting Vado’s ability to open doors to other topics of conversation—see Remember. Throughout the track he traverses personal stories without breaking the tough consistency of the mixtape. He still mixes basketball references and Papoose Summer Jam memories in with his personal tales of struggle. It all seems tangled up with who he is.

You cannot overvalue consistency. Consumers reward artists for successful experiments but we sure don’t want to pay for the failed ones. Can I think of better rappers than Vado? Absolutely, I can think of a bunch in NY BUT how reliable is their music? How fun is that music to listen too? How many NY rappers can I name that are more reliable than Vado? Not many.

stream or download Slime Flu 4 below:

http://www.datpiff.com/Vado-Slime-Flu-4-mixtape.517960.html

p.s. Slime Flu 4 has one of my favorite references of this year. Many rappers have referenced the colorful villain Sho’nuff from Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon but Vado went in a whole different direction. “They say I’m the last dragon. I’m Eddie Arkadian with the piranha tank (White Collar).” Now that is a movie reference! http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_T7F7ffynvhA/SYTbhN1HuPI/AAAAAAAAAJs/Pzp0SEtTAH8/s320/bscap0004.jpg