This Tuesday saw the release of at least 10 hip-hop albums, and while I’d like to weigh in on all of them, this hurricane keeps knocking out my power up here in Oregon. So in the interest of paying credence to some interesting releases, I offer these mini-reviews of the finest of the crop. Also, I’m writing this on Halloween, so we can call them “bite-sized.”
Sean Price, Mic Tyson
Star Rating: 2/5
Something weird is going on with the mix on this album. Price’s vocal level is way too loud compared to the beats. As a result, Mic Tyson sounds less like a soundtrack to swaggering and more like a bunch of backup tracks for goofy, bow-legged strutting.
The Black Opera, Libretto: Of King Legend
Star Rating: 3.5/5
When your album art features a picture of no lesser a figure than Sauron, you can rest assured that the ensuing tracks have a sizable weakness for grandiosity. Sure enough, Libretto features all kinds of ridiculous over-the-toppedness. There are two (count them—two!) intro tracks, a pervasive focus on the MCs’ royal nature, and enough epic organs to supply apocalyptic cults the world over with music from now until the end of the millennium. But you know what? The disparate collective of MCs that comprise The Black Opera are more or less faultless, which makes Libretto an unexpected gem.
Craig G, Ramblings of an Angry Old Man
Star Rating: 2.5/5
As Craig G helpfully explains on the LP’s opening track, its title references how the MC’s 26 years in the game make him relatively “old,” and how, apparently as a result of his age, he frequently complains about the modern day’s lack of “real” hip-hop. I’m going to go ahead and roll my eyes at that latter claim, but 26 years of practice have indeed allowed Craig G to perfect his craft. He raps in a bounding flow that too often takes defensive posturing as its subject. Yeah, you’re not a star, Craig G. You’re also the only one fixating on that subject.
Ca$his, The Art of Dying
Star Rating: 2.5/5
SoCal by-way-of Chicago MC Ca$his has come close to fame several times, most notably in 2006 when he signed to Eminem’s Shady Records and made a couple guest appearances on The Re-Up. The Art of Dying finds Ca$his laying down his sub-50 Cent flow atop a series of beats that sound as if they were excised from DMX’s finer efforts. All of this is accomplished with a respectable regard for quality control (one track features guest verses from Rick Ross, The Game and Joe Young), but other MCs are doing a much better job of operating in Ca$his’s mumbling, bragging, bawse-aping territory.