Tag Archives: Vado

Mixtape Review-All or Nothing: Live It Up by Lloyd Banks

Mixtape Review-All or Nothing: Live It Up by Lloyd Banks

by Dan-O

Hillary Clinton and Lloyd Banks are more similar than you might think. In the same way the public looked at Hillary confused for staying with Bill after all the cheating, expecting her to explode in front of us, Lloyd was called out publicly over and over again by his mentor 50 Cent for being lazy and not promoting himself and said nothing publicly. Banks believes in loyalty with no regard for outsiders.

On his new mixtape All or Nothing: Live It Up the first song (Pledge of Allegiance) states repeatedly “Trust nobody that ain’t family, they’ll switch up on you fast.” It’s what separates him from Game, both have virtually the same skill level but Game is an epic self-promoter willing to do whatever it takes to trend. So while 50 Cent might see Banks as lazy, and the average fan will wonder where he goes in between mixtapes (not a promotional tour) on All or Nothing he articulates himself as someone who wants to focus on art the way Hilary  just wants to focus on policy. Neither campaign for themselves particularly well.

She is great at the work of government and he’s a great lyricist but neither wants to win the homecoming king/queen of public opinion. Familiar producer names for Banks fans are present here as Tha Jerm gets two songs, Doe Pesci gets three. Even new names sound familiar; everyone just wants to give Banks something that will bring him back to that Born Alone, Die Alone state of being. After all the waiting, the long hiatus, how much rap has changed…Banks steps back into his old sound like he never left.

When he works with guests he is never outshined. Prodigy and Vado get loose over the haunting violin of Mr. Authentic’s Seniorities beat but Banks is better. Joe Budden throws bar after bar at the warped boom bap of Doe Pesci’s Transitions beat and Banks doesn’t bother tacking on extra verses on the back to not get shown up. He’s confident in what he’s doing.

The best songs on All or Nothing: Live It Up are Banks by himself.  As the cymbals crash on Bags of Gold (produced by Quis Star) he wraps his words around money and paranoia in a unique rhyme pattern that is amazing to listen to. My favorite song is Miserable; he raps the first verse to a loved one and pledges that his word is all he has, being authentic and reliable means a lot to Banks but not in the way we understand it.

He wants to achieve his personal artistic goals and live up to the high bar of New York hip hop lyricism without being touched by the oily tentacles of industry politics. That’s why he doesn’t opt into big marketing; he just drops it and knows that whoever listens will get more than what they paid for.  As he weaves words together at a fiery pace on Holy Water(2nd favorite song) you start to realize that he is driven but its personal and long term . Makes for a great listen.

Stream or download All or Nothing: Live It Up below:





Song Review-Gone Girl by Vado produced by Deelockit313 & Mandalae Didd

Song Review-Gone Girl by Vado produced by Deelockit313 & Mandalae Didd

by Dan-O

I’ve always thought it was strange that the NY goon rappers of old would wear Godfather persona’s and lecture (or sometimes just shout) about respect and honor and loyalty, then snicker at how dirty they were doing the women they were dating. Vado is one of the rare dudes who have talked about monogamy seriously in his music and interviews. He seems like an unlikely candidate since Wikipedia says his name is an acronym for violence and drugs only but Vado is all about honor.

He never breaks out of his fiery delivery, even for a break up song like this. The 8 song mixtape this comes off of, V-Day Ep II, has some great relationship talk. None of it gets anywhere close to Drake emotional. Over a smooth knocking beat that sounds like it belongs on Common’s Like Water For Chocolate Vado tells his break up tale about two people who loved and respected one another a great deal and even as the song ends and they block each other on social media (the modern goodbye) he never disrespects her or shouts her down.

This isn’t to say Vado is some sort of feminist hero. He’s just found a way to close the circle. If you want to be a man of respect in your crime raps you can’t be cry shouting about everyone in your personal life, without people starting to snicker a bit. What’s the use of being someone who lives by loyalty if you can’t make that work with the woman you love most? In Gone Girl Vado gives it the most honest try and no one catches anyone red handed doing anything tragic. Two proud people just drift apart, and that’s what makes this song feel so damn grounded.

EP review-Sinatra by Vado

EP review-Sinatra by Vado

by Dan-O

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling recently and getting deep into the mixtapes of the year. Some stand up as glorious and possibly even better than when they came out. Others lose their polish. Sinatra came out earlier in the year and while it was great, everything Vado does is great so I didn’t write about it.

Since Sinatra it’s been a turbulent year for mixtapes. People you count on for good work put out duds. Characters known for exuberance and experimentation barked themselves sore. All the while Sinatra has that fresh money smell.

One of the most satisfying things about any Vado project is how serious he takes every single second. He’s rapping like these bars go into a time capsule. You won’t find a more serious Intro in the business than a Vado Intro. On Sinatra the intro is urgent hard hitting and thoughtful not just laced with mob references but laments about how everyone’s spotlight is dimming.

Sinatra is different because its not just NY goon rap its NY goon rap made for stadiums. These songs are huge. It’s a tight eight track journey that manages to have Rick Ross, French Montana, and Ace Hood guest features (along with production from Cool and Dre). He re-imagines Black Rob’s Whoa so far out of its original form the new variation, Be Like, feels completely his own. It’s a homerun sailing over the wall just like Pimpin’ which utilizes the toughest Jay part of Big Pimpin for the chorus. B Wirks puts together the perfect Vadoization of the original beat; holding onto the big screen quality but slimier.

As cool and vibrant as the music is Sinatra has great old man moments. He gets Rick Ross and French Montana together for Look Me in My Eyes and Vado opens with the line “You never know a man till you play cards with him.” Vado seems to exist floating in some space between now, The Rat Pack, and Bumpy Johnson. His references are never current or hip and he couldn’t care less. The beats on his mixtapes require not just bass but the most strangled emotive soul samples (see: I Need). How strange is it to think that my first reaction to Sinatra was like it represented the outcome of some thousand year old mathematical theory; dope? Sure its dope it’s Vado.

Stream or Download Sinatra below:


Song Review-Richer Dad by Sonnie Carson produced by DR Period

Song Review-Richer Dad by Sonnie Carson produced by DR Period

by Dan-O

When I first heard the mixtape Most Likely to Succeed I started telling everyone about it. Carson has an old school NY tough guy DITC feel to his flow even when he’s rapping about normal things. The contrast between the “I took your B_” voice inflection and the domestic responsibilities of fatherhood is what makes this song amazing.

Does it get any better than the line “I’m addicted to money, he’s addicted to pancakes” which has to be one of my favorite lines of the year. This song goes so far beyond simply outlining how much his son means to him. You get to visualize through his words aimless X-box games that end with questions about where they should go for dinner. At one point Sonnie talks about his inability to boil an egg. This is on the same mixtape where Don Cannon yells “My life is like a sandwich!!!! Either way you flip it my bread comes first!” to introduce a track. So yes it’s a fun listen.

I’ve heard a thousand hip hop songs about how much that rapper loves their child or hates the child’s mother; the Cat in The Cradle theme of wishing for more time with said child. Richer Dad isn’t really about any of that, its about making it to the bus stop on time; finding a babysitter. It assumes you already know he loves his son and declares that the song is not about the mother. This is a heavy piano keyed sincere song that appears as track sixteen on a mixtape thick with sneering NY attitude (including production from Buckwild, Best Kept Secret, and the Heatmakerz and blistering features from Vado and Styles P). It’s an overstuffed (5 songs too many) mixtape but what works is always worth putting in the rotation and Richer Dad is one of those smile-on-my-face songs. Not because I’m a father or because I have no idea how to boil an egg but because it’s a dope song.

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:


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

Songs of the year: Vado-Off Hiatus


Songs of the year: Vado-Off Hiatus

by Dan-O

Slime Flu 3 is the strangest mixtape of the year so far. Half of it is boring because Vado raps so slow that his punch lines seem to be running through swamp water but the other half is like this. That other half where you catch his weird doubled background vocal laugh and think “that’s not how real people laugh” or you hear him say worser and smile; maybe you don’t hear any of that and the luscious vocal sample and NY boom just envelope you leaving 3 minutes and 48 seconds of screwfaced head nodding. Even with a bad half I have Slime Flu 3 in my top ten mixtapes so far. I’m a sucker for Kleinfeld references and sludgey NY tough talk(I also love yelling F#ck Geraldo). Rap needs people like Vado so this sound doesn’t ever go away. If this came out in the 90’s you would have loved it, be honest.