CLAMS CASINO; Instrumental Mixtape 3; Self-Released
The third and supposedly final mixtape in Clams Casino’s series of instrumental releases of rap productions compares well to the first two. Casino includes instrumental versions of productions for rappers, an instrumental song he produced for the videogame Grand Theft Auto 5 and unreleased electronic tracks. Casino is like synth existentialism. His melancholy and spacious beats contemplate meaning without using words. He has a gift for beautiful synth lines and incredible vocal sampling. There doesn’t seem to be as much sampling here, presumably because it would be hard for Casino to clear them know that he’s producing for bigger artists releasing albums people pay for. There is some sense of keeping to a formula here, but as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
RIYD: Blue Sky Black Death, Purity Ring, Keyboard Kid, Lil B, A$AP Rocky, Main Attrakionz, James Blake, Friendzone
Recommended Tracks: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12
BOLDY JAMES; Trappers Alley: Pros & Cons; Self-Released
The Concreature from Detroit, Boldy James, stomped onto the scene with this double album that highlights the nuanced reality of hustling. It’s a double album, but most of this album is super awesome and really worth listening to. The album is split. The first part is Pros and the second side is Cons. The Pros and Cons of drug dealing of course. He has some genuinely good rhymes and some really awesome beats. It’s a very solid first outing with a lot of awesome tracks. Like really really awesome tracks. This is a fire mixtape.
RIYD: Freddie Gibbs, Chip Tha Ripper (King Chip), Chuck Inglish, Big Boi, Killer Mike (sorta kinda
Recommended Tracks: 2, 3, 4, 6!, 7, 11, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21!, 22, 24, 25!, 26!, 27
ROC MARCIANO; The Pimpire Strikes Back; Self-released
The precursor to the “Strong” Island MC’s third album, The Pimpire Strikes Back is mostly produced by Roc who excels both on the mic and behind the boards. And the guest production is awesome too. This tape is more hot fire than Dylan (word to Dave Chappelle). I had trouble not giving most songs 5 stars. I kind of did anyway. Whatever it’s really good play this a lot. This is my shit. Y’all ain’t ready for this though. Now excuse me while I go look up the samples.
Recommended Tracks: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8!!, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16
LIL B; 05 F*** Em; Self-Released
For most artists 101 songs would be the length of their entire discography. For Lil B this is a drop in a swimming pool. This review wasn’t easy. The track-by-track reviews progressively go from excited Lil B jokes to just attempting to describe the songs to just saying if the songs were good. I’m leaving the joke in about giving the first track 6/5 stars because it is a good song and I like it even though there are other tracks that I think I might like better. Overall, this was an incredible mixtape. Some artists can’t do 20 good songs. Lil B has about 90 on here and the other 11 are still just okay. The styles compose pretty much the entire spectrum of rap and his flows are extraordinarily versatile. Sometimes people ask me what makes a good rapper. Lil B is the perfect example. He keeps it interesting. He entertains me.
RIYD: Young Thug, Danny Brown, Future, Clams Casino, Keyboard Kid, Beautiful Lou, Yung Lean
Recommended Tracks: 1, 2, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 42, 44, 45, 47, 48, 50, 51, 52, 55, 56, 57, 59, 60, 62, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81!, 82!, 83!, 84!, 85, 86, 87, 88, 91, 92, 93, 96, 98, 99
YOUNG THUG AND BLOODY; Black Portland; Self-released
Young Thug continues his excellent rapping on Black Portland after an extremely strong 2013. This time he is taking Bloody Jay along for the ride. Jay, however, isn’t content to remain in the background and really makes his mark on the mixtape. There are some undeniably amazing songs on this. Most rappers would be lucky if this was their greatest hits compilation. The rapping on this is surreally good and the beats all are extremely danceable and fun. Young Thug is taking rap to places it hasn’t even thought about before with flows that will stay in your ears forever. This is going to stay in people’s playlists for a while.
RIYD: Lil B, Future, Rich Homie Quan, Lil Wayne, E-40, ODB
Recommended Tracks: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11
RIFF RAFF; Birth of an Icon; Mad Decent
Riff Raff is one of the most polarizing figures in hip-hop. Some would consider him a racist act of a white man imitating stereotypes of black southern rappers. Others believe that Riff Raff isn’t a joke and is just being true to himself. Raff doesn’t seem to help his cause by his affiliation with controversial producer and DJ Diplo. Regardless, Raff is an Internet sensation and has some legitimate hit records. His music is, however, for a certain type of listener. Whatever his plan, Raff’s not trying to win awards for lyricism. He’s just looking to make hit records and become famous. Sometimes it’s better to ignore the artist and just consume the art. Sometimes the artist is too all consuming.
RIYD: Paul Wall?, Yung Lean, Major Lazer, Hyper Crush, IDK it’s like EDM meets Houston rap
Recommended Tracks: 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23
-Luke, Hip-Hop Director