Category Archives: Reviews

Album Review: Young Jeezy – “Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

The past three years have proven to be hard for Young Jeezy. When he last released an album, Jeezy had the full support of Def Jam. However, Def Jam went through a series of changes, as did Young Jeezy. From 2008 until 2011, the hip hop landscape has changed entirely and Young Jeezy currently finds himself exchanging disses with Rick Ross, a former friend, and Def Jam label-mate.

Following several changes with his release date, Young Jeezy secured the December 20 release date for Thug Motivation 103 and he did not disappoint. On his fourth effort, Young Jeezy manages to silence his critics. For years, Young Jeezy has always appealed to the “trappers,” but many overall rap fans did not like his music. Perhaps realizing this, Jeezy crafted an album that has something for everyone.

For those who wanted the typical Young Jeezy, he delivered this on such tracks as “What I Do” and “F.A.M.E.,” with T.I. However, Young Jeezy was able to move into a different lane with his “I Do” track, with Jay-Z and Andre 3000, holding his own against the renowed lyricists. Revisiting his rap-R&B style, Young Jeezy teamed up with Jill Scott for the introspective “Trapped,” helping to expand his versatility. On Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition, Young Jeezy continues to tell his street stories over some of the best beats of 2011, delivering one of the best albums of the year.

Now a six-year veteran in the rap game, Young Jeezy has finally delivered an undeniable classic album. With this album, Young Jeezy succeeded in giving every type of hip hop fan at least one track they can enjoy. Along the way, Young Jeezy delivered many of the best collaborations of the year, even snagging a hook from Eminem. Thug Motivation 103 has the most-unique mixture of artists seen on an album in years. Despite the guest verses from Fabolous, Jadakiss, Future, 2 Chainz, T.I., Jay-Z, Andre 3000, Snoop Dogg, Trick Daddy, and others, Young Jeezy is not outshined on the album. Instead, he rises to the occasion, providing one of the best albums of 2011.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Review: 9/10

Album Review: Mac Miller – “Blue Slide Park”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

One of the most important things for independent artists to do is set goals and then achieve them. Mac Miller did just that with his debut album, Blue Slide Park. As an independent artist, many did not expect Mac Miller to break as many records as he did. In the months leading up to the November 8 release of Blue Slide Park, Mac Miller was able to establish a solid buzz.

From getting the attention of Donald Trump through his “Donald Trump” single to making appearances on MTV, Mac Miller established himself in the media. Despite his buzz, many wrote Mac Miller off as a cookie-cutter rapper. However, for those who took the time to listen to Blue Slide Park, they were in for a treat. The first studio album from the Pittsburgh rapper offered a return to 1990s hip hop.

In many of his interviews, leading up to the release of Blue Slide Park, Mac Miller stated he was a big fan of the old school hip hop. This was evidenced on his debut album from both his rhyming style to the instrumental of his tracks. The year of 2011 was filled with the emergence of new artists and Mac Miller was able to separate himself from the rest with the release of Blue Slide Park. Mac Miller established himself as not only one of the best new artists, but he was one of the best artists of 2011.

The Blue Slide Park album is one of the best releases of 2011 and a must-listen.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 8/10

Album Review: Yelawolf – “Radioactive”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

The hip hop mainstream did not quite learn of Yelawolf until 2010. However, upon discovering the Alabama rapper, fans of all genres agreed Yelawolf was indeed the Southern version of Eminem. As Yelawolf began generating bigger buzz and a wider fan base, it was Eminem who signed him to his Shady Records imprint.

Early in 2011, Yelawolf announced he was working on his Radioactive debut album, which would be subject to several delays. Last week, Radioactive was finally released, producing two hits, “Hard White (Up in the Club),” with Lil Jon, and “Throw it Up,” with his boss, Eminem, and Gangsta Boo.

With Radioactive, Yelawolf is able to prove himself as both a lyricist and a storyteller, which defines himself as a true emcee. Those who are listening to Yelawolf for the first time, would easily make the Eminem comparisons. However, those who take the time to listen to Radioactive will quickly learn who Yelawolf is, aside from who he happens to sound like.

Despite this being his debut album, Yelawolf comes off as a seasoned veteran on Radioactive. With such veterans and powerhouses, such as Lil Wayne, Styles P, Jay-Z and Kanye West, and Drake releasing albums this year, Yelawolf is able to stand on his own feet and stick out amongst the giants. Part of his success is due to being signed to Shady Records, but the rest of Yelawolf’s success was driven by his own talent and lyrical ability.

Not only has Yelawolf crafted a classic album, he has also helped re-establish Shady Records outside of Eminem.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 7 /10

Album Review: Drake – “Take Care”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Immediately following the release of Thank Me Later, fans were ready to deem Drake a legend. While even Drake will admit he has a long way to go, he could not deny his desire to serve his fans. Only months after he released his debut album, Drake announced he was already working on a new album. Early in 2011, Drake announced the album would be called Take Care.

Throughout the summer of 2011, different unused Drake tracks were promoted as tracks off the upcoming album. The only tracks Drake confirmed, early on, were “Marvin’s Room” and “Dreams Money Could Buy.” In the end, the latter song did not appear on the album, but the triumphant lead single, “Headlines,” did appear. The song was followed with the fan-favorite, “Make Me Proud.”

Last year, Drake was accepted because his music was different from the other songs released during this period of time. Drake is known for singing and rapping on his tracks and excelling at both. This trend continues on his Take Care album. For those who were wanting the typical Drake, they will receive this on his album, but he also managed to change it up on his new album. Take Care does not focus strongly on simply lyricism, on this album, Drake explores his creativity and it is heavily displayed on Take Care.

While flowing well with the album, each track on Take Care is unique and tells it’s own story. Drake has easily crafted one of the most-interesting albums of 2011 and it it well worth a purchase. Despite the leak, the album is expected to sell at least 675,000 copies in its first week.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 8/10

Album Review: Wale – “Ambition”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Nearly two years have passed since Wale released his Attention Deficit debut album with Interscope Records. Wale set records for the Washington, DC hip hop scene and had prepared to take the game over. However, Wale did not like the promotion of his label and left in 2010. It was not long before Wale was having long conversations with the ever-popular Rick Ross.

In February of this year, Rick Ross announced Wale had joined his Maybach Music imprint, solidifying his movement. Wale announced plans of releasing new albums every year. The first of this string of albums would be his sophomore effort, which he titled Ambition. Unlike his debut album, Wale does have a number of radio-friendly songs on his new album.

Many were worried about Wale changing his style when he signed with Maybach Music, but this has not been the case. Wale has managed to keep his identity, while meshing well with his new label-mates. His chemistry with Meek Mill and Rick Ross is displayed on his title track. On Ambition, Wale manages to keep his longtime fans satisfied, while also catering to his new fan base, and his music has the ability to draw in new fans. Ambition is easily one of the best albums of the year, a nice alternative to the current music being released.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 8/10

Album Review: Nappy Roots – "Nappy Dot Org"

div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”a href=”” imageanchor=”1″ style=”clear: left; cssfloat: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;”img border=”0″ height=”200″ oda=”true” src=”” width=”200″ //a/divstrongBy Hardcore Critic/strongbr /strongHip Hop Vibe Staff Writer/strongbr /br /On their latest album, Nappy Roots returned as if they never left. Nearly a decade has passed since their original run on the top of the charts. On their latest album, Nappy Roots continued the “country boy” theme they originated in /br /However, on emNappy Dot Org/em, Nappy Roots was not alone. They recruited Organized Noize to be a part of their album. Together, all the artists recorded eleven unforgettable tracks. Those who are searching for lyrical hip hop will be a bit /br /While lyrical ability is not a selling point for emNappy Dot Org/em, creativity is. Organized Noize has long been one of the most-creative figures in hip hop. Their creativity paired with Nappy Roots’ unforgettable “country boy” sound created one of 2011’s most-memorable albums. Nappy Roots delivered “real rap” on their latest album, which makes it a /br /strongHip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 7/10/strongdiv class=”blogger-post-footer”div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”
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Album Review: DJ Drama – “Third Power”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

With DJs helming albums, it is difficult to judge the albums based on the lead artist, as there is not one. After being away from the game, for a little while, DJ Drama returned here in the fall of 2011. His Third Power album boasts several collaborations.

DJ Drama does stay true to the art-form of DJ-ing, as his album does provide outlets for rising artists. Unlike other DJ-helmed albums, Drama does work with artists still fighting for position in the game. While his album does boast verses from Fabolous and Akon, there are many new names on the album too.

Staying true to his Philadelphia roots, DJ Drama recruits the emerging Meek Mill, along with Roc-A-Fella’s former acts, Young Chris and Freeway, for the “Lay Low” single. DJ Drama still paid homage to his current home of Atlanta, as well, giving Gucci Mane, and newcomer Future, their own tracks on the album. Both tracks have been extremely popular online.

While Third Power will not be rated as far as lyrics go, the album is full of memorable tracks from the artists who have yet to fully break into the game. There are not many other actual albums that will boast B.o.B., Vado, Big Sean, Wale, Roscoe Dash, Freddie Gibbs, Red Cafe, 2 Chainz, and French Montana. But, through his Third Power album, DJ Drama was able to do this.

The ability to unite over a dozen of the hottest rising talents in the game makes Third Power a classic. The certified hits on the album, such as “Undercover” with J. Cole and Chris Brown, makes Third Power a must-buy.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 6/10

Album Review: Styles P – “Master of Ceremonies”

Master of CeremoniesBy Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

While fans continue to wait on The L.O.X. to release a new album, the members are solo, once again. Yesterday, Styles P released his fourth studio album, Master of Ceremonies. The album is a follow-up to his 2007 album, Super Gangster: Extraordinary Gentleman.

Fresh off the mixtape scene, Styles P enters Master of Ceremonies poised and confident. Teaming with Avery Storm for “How I Fly,” the opening track off the album, Styles P flows over a track many owuld never expect him to touch.

Brilliant wordplay and versatility keep Styles P ahead of the game on Master of Ceremonies. Switching from gangster to gentleman is something Styles P masters on his new album. Not many rappers in the game have the ability to switch their styles and still manage to be convincing. While Styles P has a number of collaborations on Master of Ceremonies, the show is never stolen from Styles P.

Master of Ceremonies provides several street anthems and is a classic Styles P album. But, it is clear P has grown as a lyricist, and an overall artist, on his new album. Styles P also unites with the L.O.X. family on two tracks, “Street Shit,” with Sheek Louch, and “It’s OK” with Jadakiss. Sadly, Styles P did not deliver on a true L.O.X. anthem on the album.

Still, Master of Ceremonies is a must-have album, the first true hardcore, gritty, album of 2011. For those who wanted the “street shit,” Styles P truly provides this, with a touch of gentleman sprinkled throughout the album.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 7/10

Album Review: 9th Wonder – “The Wonder Years”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Outside of J. Cole, not many people are aware of the hip hop scene in North Carolina. Because North Carolina is in the South, most expect the typical Southern sound. However, this is not the case. 9th Wonder was among the many North Carolina rappers releasing their debut albums.

9th Wonder continues to buck the trends, on his album. Already a famous producer, 9th Wonder proves he is no slouch behind the microphone either. While his album likely will not receive the same commercial support as other artists, it is definitely worth a listen. 9th Wonder’s best talent is his ability to fuse different genres of hip hop together.

One of the best tracks off The Wonder Years is “Enjoy,” which features Warren G, Murs, and Kendrick Lamar, as 9th Wonder is able to switch it up and come with a West Coast flow. 9th Wonder proves he is one of the most-versatile rappers in the game with his debut album. Many rappers love rapping over R&B beats, but few actually master this. Not only does 9th Wonder master rapping over an R&B beat, he also holds his own against veteran rappers, Raekwon and Masta Killa.

The Wonder Years is a creative opus and it is obvious 9th Wonder put in the quality time and effort in order to make this album happen. While other albums may be better, few will have the sheer sincerity of the debut album from 9th Wonder. Years from now, or possibly sooner, hip hop critics will hail The Wonder Years as one of hip hop’s classic albums.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 8/10

Album Review: J. Cole – "Cole World: The Sideline Story"

div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”a href=”” imageanchor=”1″ style=”clear: left; cssfloat: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;”img border=”0″ height=”200″ kca=”true” src=”” width=”200″ //a/divstrongBy Hardcore Critic/strongbr /strongHip Hop Vibe Staff Writer/strongbr /br /No more delays, no more rumors, J. Cole has officially released his debut album, emCole World: The Sideline Story/em. As the first artist signed to Roc Nation, J. Cole had to come out strong. On his debut album, he does just that, as the album immediately drops into “Dollar and a Dream III.”br /br /The album opens with J. Cole speaking directly from the heart, which is rare in today’s rap game. What the listener will hear is a rapper, new to the game, opening up about how he feels trying to enter the game. With everything against him, he is doing what he can to achieve his dreams. On each track, J. Cole opens up about what he wants out of life and the impact he wants to have on the rap /br /While J. Cole is obviously introducing himself to the game, he comes off with a veteran presence on the microphone. There are few rappers in the game, rookies or veterans, who have the skilled wordplay abilities J. Cole possess. One line, which will likely stick out on the album is “boy you can’t out-smart me, I make you feel like the shit, but you can’t out-fart.” J. Cole has the ability to switch up his flow, as he does several times on his emCole World/em /br /emCole World: The Sideline Story/em is true lyricism at its best and it will redefine the way people think about the overall Southern hip hop scene. After listening to this album, critics will realize the South, just like every other region in hip hop, is diverse. Obviously, J. Cole draws inspiration from many of the legends in the game and the competition around him. Following the release of emCole World/em, J. Cole has separated himself as the best new artist in the /br /Easily, emCole World: The Sideline Story/em is the best album, so far, of 2011. A familiar voice, over the past few years, in the game delivering his first official offering. While the album is 2011’s best-so far, J. Cole could have done without including “Lights Please” on the album. There is nothing wrong with the song, aside from the fact it was recorded and released in 2009. However, J. Cole has still put together a debut album better than albums from veterans released this /br /J. Cole’s album is easily a classic and a must-have for hip hop /br /strongHip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 9/10/strongdiv class=”blogger-post-footer”div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”
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