Category Archives: Reviews

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

div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”a href=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xr3w_HX2-ZQ/ToG3SldSksI/AAAAAAAAFGo/dM6dvDwmEcc/s1600/Cole+World%252C+The+Sideline+Story.jpg” imageanchor=”1″ style=”clear: left; cssfloat: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;”img border=”0″ height=”200″ kca=”true” src=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xr3w_HX2-ZQ/ToG3SldSksI/AAAAAAAAFGo/dM6dvDwmEcc/s200/Cole+World%252C+The+Sideline+Story.jpg” 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 game.br /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 album.br /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 game.br /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 year.br /br /J. Cole’s album is easily a classic and a must-have for hip hop fans.br /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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Album Review: Z-Ro – "Meth"

div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”a href=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-hXGjXmwscwQ/Tn3Wv6WJMqI/AAAAAAAAFDI/1KgJRAawxvQ/s1600/Z-Ro+Meth.jpg” imageanchor=”1″ style=”clear: left; cssfloat: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;”img border=”0″ hca=”true” height=”200″ src=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-hXGjXmwscwQ/Tn3Wv6WJMqI/AAAAAAAAFDI/1KgJRAawxvQ/s200/Z-Ro+Meth.jpg” width=”200″ //a/divstrongBy Hardcore Critic/strongbr /strongHip Hop Vibe Staff Writer/strongbr /br /Over the past decade, critics have pointed out how the quality of hip hop music has decreased. What has been overlooked is the work ethic of several rappers. Houston rapper, Z-Ro, has been among the hardest working rappers in the game.br /br /Z-Ro has released an album a year, or more, for the past seven years and has shown no signs of slowing down. The latest album in his drug series is emMeth/em. The new album comes on the heels of his 2010 drug-themed release, emHeroin/em.br /br /With emMeth/em, Z-Ro continues his trend of melodic flows over the Southern beats. Despite other Houston-area rappers gaining more media attention, Z-Ro cements himself as one of the best rappers from Houston, of all-time. A decade ago, rappers became comfortable with singing on their records. Many rappers continue to sing, many off-key, but not Z-Ro, as he shows he can do both at ease.br /br /Z-Ro has anthems, such as his “H-Town Kinda” and street songs, such as the Bun B-assisted “Ro and Bun.” Those songs are what keeps the album creative and shows Z-Ro’s diversity as an artist. emMeth/em is one of the best albums of 2011 and it will likely go unheard by the masses. The album is currently in stores and is well worth a listen.br /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: Smoke DZA – "Rolling Stoned"

div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”a href=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mS8SfJho6x4/TnShpQxaSNI/AAAAAAAAE60/P3lMf85wxME/s1600/Rolling+Stoned.jpg” imageanchor=”1″ style=”clear: left; cssfloat: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;”img border=”0″ height=”200″ rba=”true” src=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mS8SfJho6x4/TnShpQxaSNI/AAAAAAAAE60/P3lMf85wxME/s200/Rolling+Stoned.jpg” width=”200″ //a/divstrongBy Hardcore Critic/strongbr /strongHip Hop Vibe Staff Writer/strongbr /br /In a recent interview, Smoke DZA said New York hip hop had to change if there was any hope in returning to former glory. Over the past few years, Smoke DZA has been one of the biggest underground names in New York hip hop. He credits his success to his willingness to branch out.br /br /On his latest album, emRolling Stoned/em, Smoke DZA does just that, as he worked with a number of artists. The album features appearances from newcomers Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T., Bun B, and Curren$y. DZA feels it is important to work with people from different hip hop backgrounds. Unlike other New York rappers, he feels his music is more well-rounded.br /br /The year of 2011 has been prominent for “weed rappers” and Smoke DZA is the latest one. Following an influx of music from Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y, it seems as if Smoke DZA is working overtime to fit into the same mold. Speaking of Curren$y, he and Smoke come together for “Personal Party.” The song is a “weed rap” fan’s dream. While the album is a solid release, the frequent references to getting high leaves so much more to the imagination of the fans. Smoke DZA discusses his activities, but does not let the people in.br /br /Overall, Smoke DZA provides a unique mix of the typical Harlem swagger, along with the culture of other hip hop regions. But, his over-extention in sounding well-rounded and his frequent weed references are his downfall on the album. emRolling Stoned/em is a solid release, but is more run-of-the-mill, as opposed to some of the standout albums of the year.br /br /strongHip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 5/10/strongdiv class=”blogger-post-footer”div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”
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Album Review: Lil Wayne – "Tha Carter IV"

div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”a href=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-V3UL1dKjPHg/TlzOhtlzX7I/AAAAAAAAEjc/fA1eJ9ZDcAM/s1600/Tha+Carter+IV.jpg” imageanchor=”1″ style=”clear: left; cssfloat: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;”img border=”0″ src=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-V3UL1dKjPHg/TlzOhtlzX7I/AAAAAAAAEjc/fA1eJ9ZDcAM/s1600/Tha+Carter+IV.jpg” xaa=”true” //a/divstrongBy Hardcore Critic/strongbr /strongHip Hop Vibe Staff Writer/strongbr /br /Immediately after emTha Carter III/em, Lil Wayne announced he would soon release emTha Carter IV/em. However, changes in his own personal interests and obligations delayed the album. As fans waited on emTha Carter IV/em, Lil Wayne gave them emWe Are Young Money, Rebirth,/em and emI Am Not a Human Being/em.br /br /In November of 2010, Lil Wayne was released from prison and immediately hit the studio. Early in December, “6 Foot 7 Foot” was released as the first official single off emTha Carter IV/em. With the heavy bass drums in the background, Lil Wayne boastfully displayed his lyrical prowess. At the same time, he helped introduce Cory Gunz to the mainstream audience.br /br /”6 Foot 7 Foot” dominated radio waves from its December release well into the summer of 2011. Even after the release of the Rick Ross-assisted “John (If I Die Today),” the song still dominated. Lil Wayne has experimented with different styles throughout his career. However, he was able to successfully blend them together on emTha Carter IV/em. Seeing how his past three albums were tracks cut from emCarter IV/em and other left over verses, his past albums seem slapped together.br /br /But, on emTha Carter IV/em, it is obvious Lil Wayne put more time and effort into the album. Going outside of his comfort zone, he sings (with no auto-tune) and also delivers a positive message, with “How to Love.” But, staying true to Weezy, he also delivers “How to Hate,” with T-Pain, and “She Will” with Drake. It was the balance and the harmony, which makes emTha Carter IV/em one of the most-enjoyable albums of 2011. The album will be remembered years from now, as a classic.br /br /On this album, Lil Wayne does manage to live up to the hype he has had over the past five years,br /br /strongHip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 8/10/strongdiv class=”blogger-post-footer”div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”
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Album Review: Game – "The R.E.D. Album"

div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”a href=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-6kpolZx9d9U/TlrJ2xcz6EI/AAAAAAAAEhM/_MBxwHbTpPo/s1600/The+R.E.D.+Album.jpg” imageanchor=”1″ style=”clear: left; cssfloat: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;”img border=”0″ height=”200″ qaa=”true” src=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-6kpolZx9d9U/TlrJ2xcz6EI/AAAAAAAAEhM/_MBxwHbTpPo/s200/The+R.E.D.+Album.jpg” width=”200″ //a/divstrongBy Hardcore Critic/strongbr /strongHip Hop Vibe Staff Writer/strongbr /br /There is a popular statement, and it goes “good things come to those who wait.” Fans of Game have been waiting for nearly two years on his latest album, emThe R.E.D. Album/em. Many release dates came and gone, but fans are likely glad they waited.br /br /Right when fans gave up on emThe R.E.D. Album/em, Game triumphantly returned with “Red Nation.” The song was an ode to the Bloods gang, which Game represents. Also featuring Lil Wayne, the song was a hit among all fans.br /br /”Red Nation” held fans over for months, as they waited on an official release from Game. Following the release of emL.A.X./em, Game promised to release an album a year. When he announced emThe R.E.D. Album/em, Game promised he would not mention 50 Cent or Dr. Dre. The new album was to mark a new point in his career. However, a reunion with Dr. Dre greatly changed things.br /br /Dr. Dre’s influence helped mold the official version of emThe R.E.D. Album/em, as he raps on “Drug Test,” which also reunites Dre with Snoop Dogg. Dr. Dre also performs the intro and outro, along with three interludes on the album. Outside of Dr. Dre, Game and Lil Wayne show excellent chemistry, alongside Tyler, the Creator, on their “Martians vs. Goblins,” which takes aim at LeBron James, Bruno Mars, and Tyler Perry.br /br /The West Coast has been waiting on new blood to assist Game and Snoop Dogg for years. Kendrick Lamar has helped breathe new life into the West Coast. Game decided to feature the newcomer on his latest album, their track is called “The City,” which Kendrick Lamar displays his lyrical ability. Game has stepped his lyrical game up, as well. Despite the guests coming out strong, Game manages to remain the focal point.br /br /Aside from emWatch the Throne/em, emThe R.E.D. Album/em is among the best albums of 2011. Game worked with several artists on the album, yet the listeners still had a chance to learn more about him. Usually, when an artist works with many other artists, the music seems like a compilation album. This was avoided by Game, which has helped mold emThe R.E.D. Album/em into a classic album.br /br /Easily, emThe R.E.D. Album /emis the most-complete album of Game’s career. Unlike on his other albums, Game comes off more mature, especially on reflective songs like “Pot of Gold,” and reunited with Dr. Dre, he comes off less-needy. Obviously, Game was the victor in the 50 Cent feud and with that in the past, Game does not appear as bitter as he did on emL.A.X./embr /br /strongHip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 8/10/strongdiv class=”blogger-post-footer”div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”
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Album Review: Myster DL – "Unknown Territory"

div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”a href=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-BamSUUiXs3E/TlbPYl6AIZI/AAAAAAAAEfM/Aw_OX5kHObM/s1600/Unknown+Territory.jpg” imageanchor=”1″ style=”clear: left; cssfloat: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;”img border=”0″ height=”200″ qaa=”true” src=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-BamSUUiXs3E/TlbPYl6AIZI/AAAAAAAAEfM/Aw_OX5kHObM/s200/Unknown+Territory.jpg” width=”200″ //a/divstrongBy Hardcore Critic/strongbr /strongHip Hop Vibe Staff Writer/strongbr /br /Earlier this week, Myster DL released a free album, emUnknown Territory/em. On his latest album, thenbsp;Space Cadetz affiliatenbsp;does go into “unknown territory.” Hip hop began as a way for people to express themselves, telling what they know.br /br /Myster DL does just that on emUnknown Territory/em. On the new album, Myster DL provides his “stoner tracks,” however he also discusses the problems in the hip hop game. The hunger of Myster DL is shown on his track, “Back Againt the Wall.”br /br /emUnknown Territory /emthe most-unique album of 2011, and one of the best albums of the year. One of the biggest positives of the album is the independent sound. The tracks on the album reflect the things going on, with an unstable economy. Myster DL reflects on the choices in life on “Throw Away the Key” and also shows off his harmonzing abilities.br /br /Overall, Myster DL has provided 2011’s most-unique album and his creativity leaks off each track, regardless of the subject matter. Myster DL questions why things are the way they are on emUnknown Territory/em and he calls it like he sees it, which makes the album a must-listen.br /br /strongHip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 8/10/strongdiv class=”blogger-post-footer”div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”
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Album Review: Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame – "Ferrari Boyz"

div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”a href=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-HrE13qX8m5c/Tk1KepLbT8I/AAAAAAAAEYM/u_tqT4m6FV4/s1600/Ferrari+Boyz.jpg” imageanchor=”1″ style=”clear: left; cssfloat: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;”img border=”0″ height=”200″ qaa=”true” src=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-HrE13qX8m5c/Tk1KepLbT8I/AAAAAAAAEYM/u_tqT4m6FV4/s200/Ferrari+Boyz.jpg” width=”200″ //a/divstrongBy Hardcore Critic/strongbr /strongHip Hop Vibe Staff Writer/strongbr /br /Ever since 2009, Gucci Mane has received a boost in popularity and this helped Waka Flocka Flame. Ever since his 2010, Waka has been a fan-favorite. Neither rapper is praised for their lyrical abilities, instead they are known as two of the most-popular party rappers.br /br /When Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame announced their collaboration album, emFerrari Boyz/em, they received a mixed response. Fans were excited because the dynamic duo were coming out with an album. Critics, on the other hand, did not want to hear another horrid album.br /br /But, the emFerrari Boyz/em album serves its purpose. When a person picks up a Gucci Mane or Waka Flocka album, they know they are not getting lyricism. As great has heavy lyrics are, how many times has that type of music been used for a party? The emFerrari Boyz/em album is one of the best party hip hop albums of 2011, but suffered from being released the same day as The Throne (Jay-Z and Kanye West).br /br /emFerrari Boyz/em is nothing like emWatch the Throne/em and is a good release, in its own right. Such songs as the released singles, “Pacman” and the title track, have become two of the biggest club anthems in a little over a month being released. While the album’s primary theme is party, there are a couple of tracks up there for the ladies and some tracks that chart into other territory. br /br /While Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame attempt to branch out, they are at their best when they stay in their lane. Overall, the emFerrari Boyz/em album is a good listen, especially on a night when a party is going on.br /br /strongHip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 5/10/strongdiv class=”blogger-post-footer”div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”
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Album Review: Ace Hood – “Blood, Sweat, & Tears”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

The third album from Ace Hood is hands-down the most emotionally-driven album of his career. During the time between Gutta and his latest album, Ace Hood nearly lost everything. It was then when he questioned even staying in the rap game.

Following a conversation with DJ Khaled, late in 2010, Ace Hood decided it was time to re-enter the game. Early in 2011, Ace Hood proclaimed he was the Derek Jeter of hip hop. Many scoffed at those claims, but no one is mocking Mr. Hood now.

Ace Hood officially returned in February of this year with “Hustle Hard.” The song quickly became a minor hit, but the “Hustle Hard (remix)” with Rick Ross and Lil Wayne went on to become one of the biggest anthems of the year. Fans were eagerly waiting for Blood, Sweat, & Tears. The album is full of twelve, very entertaining tracks.

The downfall of Blood, Sweat, & Tears is the “Go N Get It” single. The song is definitely a good song, but it is a cheap imitation of “Hustle Hard.” Given the music Ace Hood has delivered in the past, he is much better than that. Still, the album is very entertaining, as Ace Hood did not forget his softer side with such songs on the album, such as “Body 2 Body,” “Letter to My Ex’s,” “Beautiful,” and “Spoke to My Momma.”

While it is not the best album of the year, Ace Hood’s emBlood, Sweat, amp; Tears/em is far from the worst album of the year. More than anything, the album shows Ace Hood’s growth, as a man, as opposed to his growth as a lyricist. Given the profile of his singles, this album is expected to fare better, commercially, than his previous albums.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 6/10

Album Review: The Throne – “Watch the Throne”

Watch the ThroneBy The Voice
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

In 2009, Jay-Z was in the midst of a comeback and Kanye West was facing a major backlash. The following year, Kanye West made a strong comeback and Jay-Z took a backseat. Fans were begging for new music from Jay-Z.

Less than a month following the release of Kanye West’s fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, it was announced a collaboration album between Jay-Z and Kanye West would be released.

The album was titled Watch the Throne and it was branded as the first time Jay-Z and Kanye West would share the mic as equals. The album also marked a brief return by Jay-Z to Roc-A-Fella Records, the label he founded with Damon Dash. In early 2011, Jay-Z and Kanye West released “H.A.M.,” which is the first single off the new album.

For months, fans waited for new music from the duo. When they began recording the album, they had taken over two hotel rooms in New York City to record. However, their hectic schedules kept them from recording the way they wanted to. Six months would pass before anything besides talk materialized from their collaboration album.

Towards the end of July, Jay-Z and Kanye West released “Otis,” a song sampling Otis Redding, and announced their group name as The Throne. Following their group name and the single, The Throne also released other songs for promotional use. Yesterday, the mythic album was released and is a nice fusion of soulful classics with the modern music.

Watch the Throne manages to go from one extreme to another, without seeming rushed and slapped together. Hands down, The Throne (Jay-Z and Kanye West)’s Watch the Throne, is the best album of 2011. Hopefully, more singles will be released from the album as the months pass. It will be a major disappointment if this album suffers, like other major collaboration albums, from lack of promotion.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 9/10

Album Review: "Self Made, Vol. 1"

div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”a href=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-EetjucwTW8U/Tdyo7MdgTTI/AAAAAAAADrM/uCLau3pXecI/s1600/Self+Made+Vol.+1+official.jpg” imageanchor=”1″ style=”clear: left; cssfloat: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;”img border=”0″ height=”200″ src=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-EetjucwTW8U/Tdyo7MdgTTI/AAAAAAAADrM/uCLau3pXecI/s200/Self+Made+Vol.+1+official.jpg” t8=”true” width=”200″ //a/divBy Hardcore Criticbr /Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writerbr /br /Rick Ross sought to prove he could take over the rap game and he did just that. Following his 2010 onslaught, Ross sought to prove he could become a top hip hop executive. Expanding his Maybach Music label by over 100%, Rick Ross proved just that.br /br /The results of his labor were all laid out on the Maybach Music compilation album, emSelf Made, Vol. 1/em. Because these artists were only assembled a few months ago, the chemistry is lacking a bit. But, the distinct styles of each artist is what helps make the album.br /br /While the album is introducing the new artists, meaning Rick Ross should take a backseat, Ross almost sounded as if he “phoned in” his verses. Because the leader of the crew came off a bit uninterested, the album lacked the synch any album should have. Overall, emSelf Made, Vol. 1/em is an interesting album and very entertaining.br /br /Fans of Rick Ross should definitely check the album out.br /br /strongHip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 5/10/strongdiv class=”blogger-post-footer”div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”
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