Category Archives: Reviews

Album Review: Lloyd Banks – "H.F.M. 2 (The Hunger for More)"

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=”320″ ox=”true” src=”” width=”320″ //a/divBy The Hip Hop Writerbr /Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writerbr /br /Four long years have passed since the last time a new album came from Lloyd Banks. Following a weak effort in 2006 with emRotten Apple/em, Banks had to prove himself. It was after his album release that the G-Unit movement began to fall /br /Because the Banks release signaled the end of a big moneymaker, Interscope Records never gave him a solid release date. Last year, Lloyd Banks had enough and left the label. After leaving Interscope, he returned to the mixtape /br /Long before G-Unit made it into the mainstream, they dominated the New York mixtape scene. As a soldier for G-Unit, Lloyd Banks was one of the most popular mixtape rappers in the years before G-Unit exploded onto the charts. In need of a boost, he returned to his grind and built a /br /Early this year, Lloyd Banks recorded the mixtape single, “Beamer, Benz, or Bentley.” While the song was catchy, no one expected it to become the hit it has become. The song was so popular that 50 Cent decided to have Lloyd Banks release an album. 50 Cent used the popularity of this song to market G-Unit to a new label. Throughout the summer, there were rumors of the label heading to Def Jam, but in the end, EMI agreed to distribute the next few releases from G-Unit /br /With a solid record deal behind him, Lloyd Banks recorded an album to support his hit single. The feeling he had when he went in the studio was hunger. Six years ago, Lloyd Banks was so excited as he put together his debut album and he simply wanted more. Despite being a veteran in the game, Banks still wanted more and to take things back. This was the reason he ended up naming his album emThe Hunger for More 2/em. Not only was it a return to his rawness, but it was a return to the hunger he did not have on emRotten Apple/ /br /As more songs were released from the album, anticipiation built for the new release. Lloyd Banks promised he would not let the fans down with this album. Banks felt as if he really had to come through for his fans because he has been overshadowed by Kanye West and Nicki Minaj. In an effort to push the creativity, he decided to feature West on the album. Unlike his other two albums, emH.F.M. 2 (The Hunger for More)/em is star-studded with appearances from Ryan Leslie and Juelz /br /Lloyd Banks hoped to prove he could handle himself with other heavy-hitters by collaborating with so many artists. What time Banks was heard on the album, he held his own, but the album comes off as more of a compilation because more of other artists are heard instead of Lloyd Banks, himself. But, every artist on this album came with their best, including Banks. Because of this, the album is still very good, but it appears more as a compilation instead of a solo /br /The album was filled with verses from other artists, but Lloyd Banks held fans down, even after being overshadowed on his “Beamer, Benz, or Bentley” by Juelz Santana. emThe Hunger for More 2/em is definitely a good album and worth the /br /Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 6/10div class=”blogger-post-footer”div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”
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Album Review: Kid Cudi – "Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager"

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″ px=”true” src=”” //a/divBy The Hip Hop Writerbr /Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writerbr /br /Last year, Kid Cudi amazed listeners and some credited his debut album for saving hip hop. Following the success of his first album, Kid Cudi began working on his second disc. Now, the people have a chance to hear what he had in /br /Recently, the Cleveland rapper admitted he was growing bored with hip hop. But, with Kanye West breathing down his neck, Cudi delivered as promised. On his latest album, Kid Cudi has a new story to tell, but following the same /br /In recent years, there have been many attempts to blend hip hop into other genres. First, there was the collaboration between Nelly and Tim McGraw and later there was Lil Wayne’s emRebirth/em. But, with Kid Cudi, the blend comes a little more natural. Unlike most rappers Kid Cudi sings his raps, which makes his flow more melodic than other emcees. A melody makes it a lot easier to blend into other /br /strongTrack listing/strongbr /br /nbsp; 1. “Scott Mescudi vs. The World” featuring Cee-Lobr /nbsp; 2. “REVOFEV”br /nbsp; 3. “Don’t Play This Song” featuring Mary J. Bligebr /nbsp; 4. “We Aite (Wake Your Mind Up)”br /nbsp; 5. “Marijuana”br /nbsp; 6. “Mojo So Dope”br /nbsp; 7. “Ashin’ Kusher”br /nbsp; 8. “Erase Me” featuring Kanye Westbr /nbsp; 9. “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young”br /10. “The Mood”br /11. “Maniac” featuring Cage and St. Vincentbr /12. “Mr. Rager”br /13. “These Worries” featuring Mary J. Bligebr /14. “The End” featuring GLC, Chip tha Ripper, and Nicole Wraybr /15. “All Along”br /16. “GHOST!”br /17. “Trapped in my Mind”br /br /On his latest album, Kid Cudi managed to successfully blend hip hop into other genres and not sound as if he was trying too hard. He brought in the soul with a collaboration with Nicole Wray and two tracks on the album with Mary J. Blige. Kid Cudi is definitely one of the most creative people in hip hop and he brings some of the G.O.O.D. Music family on the album too. Of course, he and Kanye West teamed up for a record, showing off their skills, but he also featured GLC and Chip tha Ripper /br /It’s a shame that Kid Cudi will not be doing more hip hop albums. While he plans to stay in music for a long time, he is hanging up the mic in favor of being in a rock band. Either way, he will be bringing something new to the game with his rock /br /Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 7/10div class=”blogger-post-footer”div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”
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Album Review: Rick Ross – “Teflon Don”

By The Hip Hop Writer
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Following the release of Deeper Than Rap, Rick Ross made it clear he was here to stay. He said the next album he came out with would be the defining album of his career. Rick Ross was ready to assume his position at the top of the game. No one really took Rick Ross seriously.

With everyone doubting him and taunts from his rivals, 50 Cent and Floyd Mayweather, Ross silently went about his business. At times, he would release public statements. One statement Ross made was that his album would become a classic upon release.

Right as hip hop magazines and other outlets were ready to give up on Rick Ross, he mounted a return to the game with Ne-Yo. Early in the spring of this year, he released his lead single, “Super High.” The song was a triumphant return to the game and he proved he was still the boss with Stacey Dash as the lead female in the video. Quickly, the song was met with significant air play and critical acclaim. “Super High” did enough as the lead to help Teflon Don debut number two on the Billboard Hot 200 albums chart.

Upon release, the 11-track opus has been blazing stereos across the United States. All Rick Ross albums are known to make people bounce, but not like this. For this album, Rick Ross went all out, proving his lyrical improvement on his last album was no fluke. While some predicted Ross to take a few steps back, as far as lyrical prowess goes, he took multiple steps forward. From the start of the album, Rick Ross proved he could hold his own against stars, such as Styles P, Jay-Z, Drake, T.I., Jadakiss, and Erykah Badu. With this album, Rick Ross was able to combine all of the strong points of the hip hop community for one great album.

Hip Hop Vibe Review: 9/10

Album Review: Eminem – “Recovery”

EmRecoveryBy Mark Thomas
Hip Hop Vibe staff writer

Everyone out there checked out the new Eminem album, Recovery? Well if not…what the hell are you waiting for? Em is back, and now we’re talking about the true Em, the old school Em we all knew and loved.

Em’s last two albums left a bit to be tired–funny and entertaining as always, with some great punchlines that we always come to expect–but the overall experience left a lot to be desired. Relying too much on celebrity punching bag topics and the “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog” voice, the overall effect of his last album, “Relapse” and the previous “Encore” was a letdown to a lot of his hardcore fans, myself being one of the many.

Fans disappointed by those two albums can rejoice–he truly is back, bringing both his wit and humor with savage punchlines, but also some heavy and deep poignancy throughout the album. Women and relationships reign heavy as topic for the album, displayed in many tracks throughout. A new aspect to Eminem he has never tried on a studio album before is female guest spots. Two are featured on this album, Pink on the track “Won’t Back Down” and Rihanna on the track(now receiving radio play), “Love the Way You Lie.” Personally I am a definite fan of both, but the Rihanna track stands out as easily one of the top 3 tracks on the album, with a great beat, catchy chorus from Rihanna, and powerful lyrics. It’s a tale of the deep love and hate of a chaotic relationship, with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and it’s a heavy hitter with great Em verses and the beautiful voice of Rihanna on the chorus.

I try to pick only a few favorite tracks, but that’s near impossible for me. It’s easier to pick my least favorite tracks to be honest. “Cold Wind Blows,” the album opener, for me is too much a return to what I consider the ‘bad Eminem,’ the one who relies on nonsensicality and vulgarity not with purpose, but just to be off the wall. While it can hit a home run at times if clever, too often he just comes off gross and nonsensical. It may be enertaining for some, but I prefer the clever Eminem, whose punchlines, humor and wit are unmatched in 95% of current hip hop. The only other track that doesn’t wow me, but certainly isn’t terrible, is “So Bad.” Again, nothing terrible about it, but it just doesn’t have much of a ‘wow’ factor about it.

I will mention my definitive favorite tracks on Recovery. Hands down favorite is “Almost Famous”–just chock full of incredible punchlines, wit and charm. A track about Em’s warnings to anyone out there who craves the life of fame. Another brilliant track is “Space Bound,” an outer space quirky love track about being so in love with someone who, when she stops loving him, he can’t live any longer. The aforementioned “Love the Way You Lie” is probably the catchiest and most addictive track on the album, with a great beat, catchy hook, and powerful relationship message. And finally, myself being a fan often of Em’s heavier tracks, I do love both the Ozzy Osbourne sampled track “Going Through Changes,” and the album closer(minus bonus tracks), “You’re Never Over.” Both cover a range of topics of the challenges in Em’s life with his divorce and separation from his wife Kim, the challenges of raising his daughter in that environment, and the loss of his best friend and member of D12, Proof.

I could write so much more, but that would be slowing you down from what you should be doing if you haven’t already–going out and getting this album! If you truly love hip hop, you won’t be disappointed. Em was a bit of a letdown with his previous two, but he is BACK in a big way. Enjoy.

Album Review: Drake – “Thank Me Later”

Thank Me LaterOnly a few months ago, there were doubts about the rapper, Drake. Last year, he was out promoting his mixtape, So Far Gone. Some hip hop critics dubbed it the album of the year. Drake recorded the mixtape by himself and it got him signed to Young Money. Instead of rushing into an album, Lil Wayne promoted Drake with the rest of the crew.

Good things come to those who wait. On the lead single from Thank Me Later, “Over,” Drake said he wanted to keep Young Money going. It is safe to say Young Money is in great hands with Drake. He worked with anyone who would take him when he first began rapping. In time, he became the focus.

Drake went from hoping to work with anyone to everybody wanting to work with him. Despite moving to the top of the game at a rapid pace, Drake did not forget the people who helped him when no one else would. Instead of using his collaboration with Swizz Beatz as the lead single, Drake used the Boi-1da-produced, “Over.” Because the song came from Drake, it became a hit.

But, the album proves how versatile Drake actually is. When speaking of his lyrical ability, Drake said he knows he is a good rapper, but he wants to be great. Outside of rapping, in general, Drake is actually a pretty good singer, too. His second single, “Find Your Love,” proves this. Drake shows he can do a little bit of everything on his debut album. Most rappers team up with singers to perform the hooks of their songs, but all Drake has to do is change the tone of his voice. Not too many rappers sing their own hooks and sound good doing it. 50 Cent said he is like a good-singing version of Ja Rule.

When speaking of influences, Drake said he has looked at the people who were on top of the game before him and he benefits from having Lil Wayne in his corner. The main reason Drake is sitting on top of the game is because of everything Lil Wayne has done for him. Lil Wayne spoke true words on the third single from Thank Me Later, “Miss Me.” There are few albums which can be listened to in its entirety without a single track being skipped over. Thank Me Later is one of those few albums which can be played without skipping a single second. On each song, Drake comes with a different style.

Despite coming with a different style on each track, Drake comes off in a strong manner. If his rhymes are not legendary, his singing is comparable to Usher. His performance on Thank Me Later is captivating as he tells his story of pain, rising, and triumph all over unique beats. Listening to the album will force people to laugh, cry, part, and dance. From track-to-track, Drake is able to change things up and the people will not miss a beat. Even as great as the album is, after listening to it, Drake feels as if he could have done better on the album. It is already the best hip hop album of 2010.

There may have been doubts about Drake at the start of his career, but there is no one who feels Drake cannot make it in the rap game. No, he is no longer the black kid in the wheelchair on “Degrassi.” Instead, the man once known for his role on the teen soap is a Canadian rapper with a New Orleans accent dominating the game. A day cannot go by without a Drake song being played on the radio. The good thing about this is there are so many to choose from. Thank Me Later is a must-buy and Hip Hop Vibe gives it ten out of ten discs.

Ludacris goes gold with "Battle of the Sexes"

div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”a href=”” imageanchor=”1″ style=”clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;”img border=”0″ src=”” //a/divLudacris had almost fallen out of love with the rap game after the release of iRelease Therapy/i. His name was being called for film roles and television roles. In some ways, Ludacris felt he had outgrown the rap game. There was a time when he released an album every year because he was hungry. He released that album because he felt /br /In 2008, Ludacris released iTheater of the Mind/i and again seemed bored with recording music. He announced he would record a sequel to the album and release it in 2009. But, Luda announced the album would be his final release. Aside from a new solo album, Ludacris announced a collaboration album with Shawnna. iBattle of the Sexes/i had been talked about since /br /Two years after the initial announcement, Ludacris began working on his part of the album. When it was Shawnna’s turn to record music for the album, she declined. For the past few months, she had been talking with T-Pain’s Nappy Boy Music about a new record deal. Upset, Ludacris allowed her to leave the label and he removed her from the album. iBattle of the Sexes/i became his seventh studio album and Ludacris fell back in love with the rap game. In many ways, he reverted back to his trademark /br /The album featured two chart-topping singles with “How Low,” the lead, and “My Chick Bad.” Ludacris collaborated with many of the top females in the game. His list of collaborators includes Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Kim, and Monica. These female artists were brought in to fill the void Shawnna left on the album. The album becomes the eighth-consecutive album from Ludacris to certify gold. Additionally, the album is his seventh solo album to go gold. To date, Ludacris has yet to have an album not certify. Ludacris joins Lil Wayne as the only other rapper to release an album in 2010 and have it certify gold.div class=”blogger-post-footer”div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”
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