This Could Be Big – Pudgee The Phat Bastard
February 6, 2007, 5:44 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

Before starting today’s post I just wanted to give a quick shout to everybody who has been leaving comments recently. It it always highly satisfying to get some feedback on the work that I put into the blog and it has been particularly great recently with a debate or two kicking off (props to Alley Al for stoking the fire on the Large Pro post… not sure how well you came off mate!). In all seriousness though, it really is appreciated when people leave their thoughts and feelings on the albums and reviews, keep it up if you’re already on it or get involved if you ain’t there yet.

‘Give ‘Em The Finger’ was one of those albums that I felt genuinely excited about when I stumbled across it on Amazon. I can’t explain exactly what this hunch was based upon as I had never heard any of his music, but I just had a feeling that it would be dope. When I get this feeling it goes one of two ways: I’m either right and elated or I’m wrong and end up somewhat disappointed. I think that my response to this album falls into the second category despite the fact that this is a decent release that is well worth a listen.

Everything is in place if you’re feelin’ that mid ’90s vibe: boasts and brags, a shouty chorus here and there, big snares and some horn loops… there are also some highlights on here as well. ‘Checkin’ Out The Avenue’ has an almost Naughty By Nature feel about it and would work well in a club and both ‘This Is How We…’ (featuring a verse from Kool G Rap) and ‘How You Feel About That’ will get your head nodding. Much of the album’s production is handled by the Trakmasterz and I would be grateful to anyone who could fill me in on their full discography as the internet is a little sparse on detail apart from their more mainstream production for Will Smith, Mariah Carey and a few other bits and pieces.

Despite these standouts and a relatively consistent quality throughout (ignore the horrendously corny ‘Lady In My Life’), this is not an album I listen to particularly frequently and would argue that there is something a little bit lacklustre about ‘Give ‘Em The Finger’. Don’t get me wrong, this is a solid enough release but there is something about it that doesn’t quite do it for me. This also goes for some of the cuts he released later on in the ’90s that I felt also lacked that edge that makes something great as opposed to being just good. You may not feel the same: cop it and find out.

Request Alert!

I mentioned the shelved Freddie Foxxx LP in my Large Pro post as I feel that it is a another example of an industry oversight, particularly given his prominent position in the genre for over 15 years. The version I have of this is of a relatively poor quality with a hiss over all of the tunes. If you have a version of this that is of decent quality then please hit me with a link: I want to here ‘Can’t Break Away’ in all its glory as well as a couple of other choice cuts from the album. Thanks in advance…

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The Puerto Rican Wonder – Kurious
February 5, 2007, 5:41 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

Kurious goes down as yet another one of those hip hop artists who showed much promise but who also never managed to translate this into a career of any longevity. Hailing from Spanish Harlem in Uptown Manhattan, Kurious originally appeared on Pete Nice and Daddy Rich’s album ‘Dust II Dust’ before releasing his debut ‘A Constipated Monkey’. Apart from a few appearances on other albums of the era (most notably KMD’s ‘Black Bastards’ and Gravediggaz’s ‘Six Feet Deep’) this is basically the only record where you get a decent flava for the Puerto Rican MC. This is a pity as the album is a strong release that should have at least propelled him onto a sophomore effort.

Particularly note-worthy is the production roster which features work from the Beatnuts, the SD50s (check Jaz’s post at ColdRockDaSpot for more info on the crew) and one track by the Prime Minister himself Pete Nice. This line-up should speak for itself and the end product is by no means a disappointment. Jazzy loops, slammin’ drums… you know the deal. ‘Walk Like A Duck’ was the first 12” to see a release which I find slightly surprising due to its slow pace although it is still a choice cut from the album. ‘Uptown Shit’ followed and for me would have been the better choice of lead off single due to its upbeat party vibe.

His verses over the course of the album are also enjoyable, featuring a relaxed delivery and a sense of wit to boot. This is not to say that he is the most gifted of MCs but he can certainly hold his own alongside some guest spots by Casual and Psycho Les. In all honesty, there really isn’t a bad cut on the album which makes Kurious’ disappearance from the scene all the stranger.

There was a ‘comeback’ single that surfaced in 2001 called ‘All Great’ that I picked up when it was released but it clearly made little impact and there has been nothing heard of him since. For this reason he goes down as yet another casualty of the genre who you can’t help but feel should have been bigger than he was. Still, this is a solid and enjoyable album that definitely qualifies as slept on, although I feel that labelling this as classic material would be a step too far. Let me know what you think.

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Who The What?! Jamal
February 2, 2007, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

Although I have seen this around relatively recently, it has been requested and it provides me with the opportunity to voice my opinion on the album and my somewhat controversial views about Def Squad. Originally paying his dues in kiddy rap outfit Illegal, Jamal is one of the few MCs of this ilk to have gone on to solo success. I think that ‘Last Chance, No Breaks’ is a solid effort, but there is something about it that means I rarely listen to it. Surprisingly, this is also the case for me with other albums from the Def Squad camp: more of that later.

The most notable single on the album is of course ‘Fades Em All’ which is perhaps more widely known in its ‘Pete Rock Remix’ format (I’ve included this in the zip). Both of these selections are excellent, with a different feel to them that works well in both contexts. This is matched by Jamal’s verses that demonstrate an obvious maturity that was understandibly a little lacking in his Illegal days; the flow is more comfortable and accomplished. There are other choice cuts here as well. I like the laid back feeling of ‘Keep It Real’ with its smooth piano sample and I also like the darker ‘The Game’ that has a slow but seriously head noddy vibe. If you are into Def Squad then I imagine that you will appreciate the majorty of the production on this album as it is instantly recognisable as Erick Sermon or Redman’s work behind the boards.

Now for the controversy. Although I own some of the seminal Def Squad releases, they have never really done that much for me. I wonder if this is perhaps because I did not have the opportunity to hear this music in the context in which it was originally released, but there has always been something about Sermon’s production style that hasn’t really connected with me. I want to stress that this is not an entirely educated position: I do not know this facet of hip hop music in perhaps the depth that I should. However, this in itself is indicative of the fact that I have not made the conscious effort to do so, and reflects my position on the crew’s output. I think the issue lies in the sample choices and vocoder effects that just don’t really do it for me. I am happy to be proven wrong and as I say this is perhaps simply due to a lack of consolidated knowledge of the crew, but still…

I’m sure that I’m going to get ripped to pieces for this… hit me up.

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