Category Archives: Reviews

Album Review: Beanie Sigel – “This Time”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

As both a man and an artist, Beanie Sigel finds himself in a unique position, in the middle of a comeback, while being forced away. Since the official demise of Roc-A-Fella Records in 2008, the Philadelphia rapper has been trying to get things together. Five years passed without a Beanie Sigel album and the game went through drastic changes.

Beanie Sigel signed a new label deal and prepared to reunite his State Property crew, when he was sentenced to two years in prison for tax evasion. Nothing like prison was going to stop Beanie Sigel, however. In the face of adversity, Beanie Sigel announced his first album in five years, This Time.

On his new album, Beanie Sigel reunited with State Property and also has collaborations with the likes of Game and Akon on the project. A comeback album for Beanie Sigel, the album is a must-hear for those who love the hardcore genre of hip hop. Over the past few years, Beanie Sigel has remained relevant through collaborations.

This Time, however, is clearly headlined by Beanie Sigel, as his typical dominance shines through on each track. While Beanie Sigel has delivered one of the most-solid albums of the year, the overall lack of promotion may be his only downfall. Waiting five years in between album releases, Beanie Sigel returned with a strong force. However, the long gap in time may lead to many newer fans not knowing who he is and the lack of promotion leading to many longtime fans not knowing he has anything out.

While This Time will likely be overlooked, it will definitely be a hidden gem, as one of 2012’s best albums. An eleven track opus, Beanie Sigel is not asking much time of his listeners. The album may not be the best in his overall collection, but it is the perfect “hello/goodbye” comeback album from the Philadelphia rhymeslinger. This Time comes as the bright spot for Beanie Sigel, as the album was released last week, as he will soon have to report to prison on September 12.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 8/10

Album Review: Slaughterhouse – “welcome to: OUR House”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Seemingly banned by the industry, Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Royce Da 5’9, and Crooked I found most of their success on the mixtape level. Separately, the four emcees were among the most popular mixtape rappers in the game. However, when the foursome came together, they were on the verge of making hip hop history.

Slaughterhouse was born late in 2008 and there were rumors of Eminem signing the group from the very beginning. Eminem, at the time, was working on Relapse, his comeback album. The Slaughterhouse four would sign with Koch Records (eOne Music) and release their self-titled debut album.

Even before the release of their debut album, fans knew Slaughterhouse would eventually sign with Shady Records. Because of this, anticipation was high for their Shady Records debut, their sophomore album, before their debut album was released. Throughout 2010 and 2011, many release dates came and went.

During the closing days of 2011, Slaughterhouse revealed their Shady Records debut would be released before the end of 2012. With a spring 2012 release date planned, Slaughterhouse went on tour. Their tour was set to end the same day they released their debut album, which was eventually titled welcome to: OUR House. More delays would be set before Slaughterhouse would release their album, teaming with DJ Drama for a mixtape, On the House, which was released last week.

This past week, Slaughterhouse released their highly-anticipated Shady Records debut, welcome to: OUR House. The album was been expected for well over three years. With the album finally released, Slaughterhouse has had several singles out, which have done very well. Among those singles include “Throw it Away,” “My Life,” and “Throw That.” Featured on those singles are Swizz Beatz, Cee-Lo, and Eminem. On these tracks, the foursome finds themselves overshadowed, a bit, by the guests.

Slaughterhouse put together an enjoyable album and did not rely on many guests, as there are four members in the group. However, for those looking for a classic album will be greatly disappointed.welcome to: OUR Houseis definitely an album full of hits, featuring such hitmakers as B.o.B. and Busta Rhymes, in addition to Skylar Grey, Eminem, Cee-Lo, and Swizz Beatz. While the focus was clearly on Slaughterhouse, they were a bit overshadowed on their collaborations.

With so many artists on the album, welcome to: OUR House plays out more like a compilation album than an album displaying a “supergroup.” But, released in a summer where albums came from Nas, Rick Ross, and DJ Khaled, welcome to: OUR House will ultimately be overlooked, especially with albums scheduled for 2012 release dates from Game and Lil Wayne, among others.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 6/10

Album Review: DJ Khaled – “Kiss the Ring”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

With the exception of 2009, every summer since 2006, DJ Khaled has released an album every year. DJ Khaled has played a strong part in the complete dominations from Lil Wayne and Rick Ross through his albums. Other stars born with the help of the DJ Khaled movement include Plies and Ace Hood.

What began as primarily a Southern and Miami movement has become one of the biggest movements in hip hop. DJ Khaled’s ability to draw the known Southern artists is what prompted Def Jam to offer him an executive role. This was the same reason, Birdman convinced DJ Khaled to move his We the Best label to Cash Money.

Kiss the Ring is the third album, in as many years, by DJ Khaled released under the YMCMB brand. Two days ago, DJ Khaled went on his media run, stopping all over the places in New York City. Yesterday, DJ Khaled released the album, which, like all of his others, was very popular.

The summer has subtly belonged to DJ Khaled, as he released “Take it To the Head,” which features Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne. DJ Khaled followed this single with “I Wish You Would,” featuring Rick Ross and Kanye West. Along with his singles, DJ Khaled was featured on Kanye West’s “Cold.” Kiss the Ring will serve as the soundtrack for the summer of 2012, as all the major players this year, aside from the ones mentioned, including Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, French Montana, Big K.R.I.T., Kirko Bangz, Jadakiss, Future, Wale, Meek Mill, T.I., Tyga, and J. Cole.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Review: 7/10

Album Review: 2 Chainz – “Based on a T.R.U. Story”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

One year ago, 2 Chainz became one of the hottest rappers on the streets. While signed to Ludacris’ DTP as a member of Playaz Circle, 2 Chainz decided to go solo. However, the world knew 2 Chainz as Tity Boi, so a name change occurred before he began seriously releasing new music. Along with Future, 2 Chainz became one of Atlanta’s biggest new artists.

Months of anticipation ended when 2 Chainz released “No Lie,” with Drake, while a part of the “Club Paradise” tour. Much like his mixtape singles, “No Lie” was accepted in the streets. While 2 Chainz has built a strong fan base with his street singles, which fill his new album. Today, 2 Chainz officially released his debut album, Based on a T.R.U. Story.

2 Chainz has dominated the mixtape game over the past year. However, there have been questions about 2 Chainz’ ability to actually hold down a complete album. The album had its ups and downs, but is definitely worth a listen. While 2 Chainz is not among the top lyricists in the game, he stands tall when it comes to making hits and Based on a T.R.U. Story is full of them.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 6/10

Album Review: Rick Ross – “God Forgives, I Don’t”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

The moment hip hop has been waiting for since January of 2011 is finally here, the day Rick Ross released God Forgives, I Don’t. Rick Ross, from day one, was determined to become the biggest rapper in the game. After the release of Teflon Don, Rick Ross was well on his way. Rick Ross focused on the development of his label, Maybach Music, after soldifying himself as a force in the rap game.

A year and a half of promotion has taken place, during this time Wale, Meek Mill, Stalley, and Gunplay have all become stars in their own right. Rick Ross’ health issues stopped him from closing 2011 with the release of God Forgives, I Don’t. Still, last year ended with Rick Ross on top of the rap game. However, Rick Ross was determined to end 2012 with his album out and on top of the game.

The last time around, Rick Ross proved he was more than the average Southern rapper, as he released a classic album. In 2011, Rick Ross said God Forgives, I Don’t would go down in history as one of the best albums in hip hop history. God Forgives, I Don’t manages to live up to the hype, as Rick Ross continues to give the people what they want. From the opening track to the closing track, Rick Ross delivers his classic drug lord narrative, paired with his incredible rhyming abilities.

Hip hop’s main attraction, Rick Ross toned down on the collaborations, only featuring Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Andre 3000, Drake, Ne-Yo, and Elijah Blake outside of his own Maybach Music team. While Rick Ross continues the type of music which made him popular in the first place, he does use some of his lines on these triumphant songs to give praise to the Lord and to touch on the issues plaguing the world in which he caters to. Rick Ross acknowledges God Forgives, I Don’t, itself, being a sin, as all humans are expected to forgive, but he owns this sin and delivers another notable opus, based on his imperfection. Few rappers in his position have ever done this.

As soon as Rick Ross announced God Forgives, I Don’t, everyone from his own fans and critics knew it would be a commercial success. But, following the trend of Teflon Don, the album is already a critical success. Early last year, Rick Ross predicted this album would be better than his last and he easily accomplishes this feat with the instant classic, God Forgives, I Don’t, easily the best album in Rick Ross’ discography.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 9/10

Album Review: Nas – “Life is Good”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

It seems as if this day has been three years in the making, as Nas finally returned with his tenth studio album. Nas has enjoyed a very animated career, which spans over two decades. Through these twenty-plus years, Nas went through several ups and downs. Few artists can boast of contending against Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and The Notorious B.I.G., and then celebrate being one of 2012’s biggest artists.

Some began to criticize Nas for losing a step, but he proved he could master the art of the comeback with Life is Good. In many ways, Life is Good is centered around Nas’ current status as a 40-something divorcee with two children. Nas has been portrayed as the all-around cool, street wise, intellectual thug, but now holds the burdens of the everyday man, only with fortune and fame.

While many things have disappointed him, such as the actions of his daughter and his high-profile divorce, Nas feels overall, Life is Good. On the album, Nas proved he was very much so 2012, but also let it be known he originated in the old school. Throughout the album, Nas flows over several old school-inspired beats. However, the content of the album is relevant to life as it is known in 2012. Though Nas managed to keep up with the times on his new album, he still found a way to craft a timeless album full of classic tracks.

A continuous theme of Nas’ album is him being an old man with the looks and the style of a young man. Because of this, Nas was able to make a song the young people can enjoy and relate to, while giving old school hip hop heads a breath of fresh air through his new music. Among those featured on the album include Rick Ross and Anthony Hamilton, who both put forth stellar performances, yet they did not outshine the star of the show, Nas. Few albums released this year will come close to what Nas has put together with Life is Good.

Nas made his fans wait four years until he returned with a new album and the album proved to be worth every second of those four years. Life is Good is easily the best hip hop album of 2012.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 10/10

Album Review: 50 Cent – “5 (Murder by Numbers)”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Tension between 50 Cent and Interscope Records reached new heights since the release of Before I Self Destruct. What began as a dream come true for 50 Cent has morphed into a corporate power struggle. When the relationship hit rock bottom, 50 decided to set up a separate deal for his G-Unit Records with EMI, which has since expired.

50 Cent promised fans he would deliver a new body of music before the end of 2011, but, much like with the Before I Self Destruct release, never surfaced. To deliver on his promise and to honor 50 Cent is the Future, 50 Cent released The Big 10. A late 2011 release, The Big 10 was received better than many albums. Since the release of that mixtape, fans have said the “old” 50 Cent is back.

During the promotional run for his DJ Drama-hosted mixtape, The Lost Tape, 50 Cent revealed he would release his fifth studio album in July 2012 with, or without, the support of Interscope Records. As predicted by many, 50 Cent was without the support of his label. However, this did not hinder 50 Cent when he completed his album, made his media rounds, and successfully released his album digital-only. The ten track opus finds 50 Cent in a place he has never truly been before, or never previously embraced.

On the opening lines of the album, 50 Cent embraces his position as the man of power, saying “I’m rich already.” While he embraces his wealth and accepts no longer being the underdog, 5 (Murder by Numbers) presents a 50 Cent who knows his role, yet still comes off as relatable in the streets. A decade prior, Jay-Z was able to successfully transcend as his wealth grew, as his audience grew with him. It is likely because of his strong sales, initially, and the change in style, 50 Cent has struggled. Lyrically, 5 leaves the listener wanting a little more, but the album displays the versatility of 50 Cent.

Much like all of his albums, 50 Cent keeps the collaborations short, featuring Haynes, Kidd Kidd, and new label-mate, ScHoolboy Q, who admitted to being inspired by 50 Cent to rap. Overall, however, 5 (Murder by Numbers) would make a much better mixtape than being passed off as the fifth studio album from 50 Cent. A decent compilation of tracks from 50 Cent, the album was poorly put together, yet is filled with entertaining tracks. But, for those who are searching for an album which will be remembered for years to come, this album is one of the more forgettable of 2012.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 4/10

Album Review: Maybach Music – “Self Made 2”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Following the success of the initial Maybach Music album, Rick Ross said it was only the beginning. With his own new album in the works and new albums in the works from Meek Mill and Stalley, Maybach Music has been working hard. Early in 2012, the players from Team Maybach have been gaining popularity.

After dominating the mixtape game for six months, Rick Ross breaking records with his Rich Forever project. In the spring of 2012, Rick Ross held a press conference revealing the Maybach Music release dates and the signing of Omarion. During this press conference, it was revealed when Self Made 2 would be released.

In the weeks leading up to the release of the album, Hip Hop Vibe was afforded the chance to speak with both Gunplay and Young Breed. When Gunplay spoke with Hip Hop Vibe, he spoke on having the opening words on the album. Finally released, the music did not disappoint. Gunplay’s excellent year continues on the album, but the other Maybach players show up and often.

Wale, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, and Stalley continue to portray themselves as the faces of Maybach Music Group. With the new additions to the label, Maybach Music continues to deliver some of the best music in hip hop. A few voices of the initial Self Made album were missing and Omarion was a noticable pick-up for the label. Still, Maybach Music continues to redefine the concepts of various music releases. Turning Self Made into a series, as opposed to an introductory compilation album has paid off for Maybach Music.

Instead of simply a showcase for the signed Maybach Music artists, however, Self Made 2 also served as a platform for Maybach Music affiliates such as French Montana, who shined on the album. The Maybach Music formula, which has proven successful over the past year and a half, worked to its maximum abilities on Self Made 2, as everyone was given their time to shine and all were well-received. As a compilation, Maybach Music has provided the soundtrack for the summer of 2012 and will be one of 2012’s best albums.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 8/10

Album Review: Big K.R.I.T. – “Live From the Underground”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Following several delays, last week Big K.R.I.T. overcame it all to finally release his debut album, Live from the Underground. The Mississippi emcee had built a strong following through his mixtape releases. Big K.R.I.T.’s buzz was undeniable and soon he was receiving calls from Def Jam.

Two years ago, Big K.R.I.T. signed with Def Jam, but was pushed back several times before the project was actually released. After being pushed back from the solid release date of September 2011, Big K.R.I.T. offered another mixtape before he officially rose the ranks. Now, Big K.R.I.T. is ready to unleash himself.

Once he promised himself and his fans the summer of 2012 would be the deadline for his album, Big K.R.I.T. began releasing singles. Before the album arrived, Big K.R.I.T. already served listeners with “Money on the Floor,” “I Got This,” and “Yeah Dats Me,” three popular singles. A part of the new form of emcees, Big K.R.I.T. wowed fans and critics with his singles.

Unlike many newcomers, Big K.R.I.T.’s acknowledgement and respect for the history of music is displayed in every lyric. His love for music and his creativity led to a collaboration with the legendary B.B. King. Big K.R.I.T. also had his fair share of hip hop veterans on the album, sharing tracks with 8Ball & MJG, alongside Def Jam label mate, 2 Chainz, Ludacris, Bun B, and Devin the Dude. Big K.R.I.T. offers a unique blend with his music, which is displayed throughout the sixteen tracks on the album.

Mixing his country flow with gospel-inspired music works for Big K.R.I.T. and is attractive enough for the masses, thus making Live from the Underground one of the most-compelling albums of 2012.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Review: 8/10

Album Review: Waka Flocka Flame’s “Triple F Life”

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

There has been a lot of discussion surrouding Waka Flocka Flame since he burst onto the scene two years ago. The world was not ready for an emcee who would answer the question, “Yo, Waka can you rap?,” with the “hell no” reply. Waka Flocka Flame acknowledged he was not a good rapper and that he does not sell many records, but boasts about how popular his singles are and the show dates he lands.

In spite of his either lack of lyrical ability, or lack of effort, Waka Flocka Flame has become one of the most-popular newer rappers in the game. During a recent interview, Waka Flocka Flame revealed his moves have been intentional. The Atlanta rapper revealed he took 2011 off to let his buzz die down before coming back. Today, he is officially back with the Triple F Life.

Last summer, Waka Flocka Flame delivered the first offering from the album in the form of his “Round of Applause” single, which features Drake. After several months, Waka Flocka Flame returned with the second single, “I Don’t Really Care,” which features Trey Songz. The “I Don’t Really Care” phrase is spewed throughout Triple F Life, when it comes to Waka’s lyrics. However, this is what fans expect when they listen to music from Waka Flocka Flame, as he is honest about the type of music he makes.

With Triple F Life standing for “fans, friends, and family,” Waka Flocka Flame keeps those three near and dear to his heart. His album is bolstered by incredible beats and amazing features, among those Plies, Drake, and Trey Songz, only naming a few. Far from a classic album, Triple F Life is the typical Waka Flocka Flame album. For those who love aggressive rap music and strong instrumentals, the new album from Waka Flocka Flame should definitely be in rotation. However, for those who love lyrical hip hop and social topics, it is best to leave this opus where it is. Overall, Waka Flocka Flame’s Triple F Life is an entertaining, good, listen.

Hip Hop Vibe’s Review: 5/10