Category Archives: 2009

Datarock – Red

Datarock
Red
2009
Young Aspiring Professionals/ Nettwerk Music Group/ EMI
070/100

Datarock - Red

1.The Blog // 2.Give It Up // 3.True Stories // 4.Dance! // 5.Molly // 6.Do It Your Way // 7.In The Red // 8.Fear Of Death // 9.Amarillion // 10.The Pretender // 11.Back In The Seventies // 12.Not Me // 13.New Days Dawn

Fast forward to 2009. The second album by the Norwegian band Datarock is released. Is there a difference compared to the first album? Yes and no and yes my opinion will include comments about music.

The Blog grabs you by the technological throat by treating the evolution and the importance of the internet and world wide web in a fuzzy almost industrial approach to the music combined with samples and distortion. Either way the opener sucks you into the album right away. Give It Up continues the fast pace yet is lighter on lyrical content with its Romeo & Juliet plot on a typical eighties Pop track à la Michael Jackson/Quincy Jones. True Stories slows down the pace with a modest bass groove and playful percussion while referring to the many eighties influences of Datarock (Talking Heads among others). After which Dance! picks up the pace again with a disco groove that forces you to move while the vocalist keeps planting the word “Dance” in your head. I guess you understand by now.

Molly is a more moody song about childhood love with a typical eighties sound combining synthesizers and guitar with screeching vocals for. I quite like the song actually. Do It Your Way and In The Red follow and I would categorize both tracks almost as filler. Thing is the rushed and distorted Do It Your Way combined with the relaxing “In The Red” which simply sounds clean and gives away the Doors left their mark on this band and I like hearing that. In The Red is completely instrumental and therefore very welcome for varieties sake at least. The synthesizer sounds take me back to the early eighties.

Fear Of Death is lovely song about death and love with a bit of fuzzy guitar and synthesizer melodies. The understated drumming keeps impressing me. The gem of the album, the ultimate ode to the eighties called “Amarillion” follows. What can I add, this song makes me smile and yes it is one big wink to the seventies and eighties with unexpected references over a very smooth and groovy instrumental, nothing sounds overdone. Allow me to wallow in the pleasure, this song brings me back and words are severely insufficient. The Pretender increases the pace again over a catchy disco groove with hilarious lyrics about all of us with a repetitious yet catchy lyrics. Back In The Seventies says it all with a turn to a Ska groove turning into an organ driven Disco track. The harp sample alone. Right after 2.20 the synthesizer solo takes this song to unprecedented highs. Not Me follows with a heavy synthesizer groove and jumpy beats with a shouty refrain accompanied by a jarring guitar unlike anywhere else on this album. The ‘fuzz’ is back while the guitar gets the lead role. From fuzz to tranquil grooving the last song gives you something to slowly ponder about while you chill out over a more soulful track about endings and new beginnings. New Days Dawn is the stand-out closer.

I guess it is clear I like this album. In some ways it resembles their first effort. The opening and closing tracks share typical similarities while the eclectic influences keep the variation in the listening experience. “Red” is more driven by danceable rhythms though.

Best Tracks
True Stories, Dance, Amarillion, Back In The Seventies

Recommendations
My recommendation stays the same. If you don’t have that weak spot for the seventies and eighties this album might not be your cup of tea, sorry. For now “Amarillion” is on repeat.

My regards,

Rura88

P.S. Bonkers, sorry for the delay.


Drake – So Far Gone EP

Drake
So Far Gone EP
October’s Very Own/ Young Money/ Cash Money Records/ Motown/ Universal Music Group
September 15, 2009

Hadn’t I reviewed this one already? Yes and no. You see: After Drake’s free So Far Gone mixtape had gotten shitloads of critical acclaim Drake’s new major label home: Lil’ Wayne’s Young Money decided that it deserved a  commercial re-release. However since Drake had borrowed liberally from a bunch of the songs on the mixtape, as is common practice with this type of project, releasing the motherfucker commercially would be a rather expensive affair, as clearing samples is costly. Also, who would pay for an album that was already available for free on the internet in the exact same form? So for the EP Let’s Call It Off, November 18, Ignant Shit, Little Bit, Unstoppable as well as some of the original recordings were cut and three new recording were added.

Off course what we have here is still a bit of a rerun of an album I didn’t like that much in the first place, so why review this? Well, l learnt to like couple of the songs off the original So Far Gone after accidentally landing it on my iPod, and no matter whether I’ll like this project I won’t take me long to cruise through as this is only seven tracks long.

Let’s check it out, shall we?

1. Houstatlantavegas
I thought this song sucked when I first listened to the album length mixtape version of So Far Gone, and I still do. Sorry Drizzy. Even though the beat is okay the lyrics are incoherent and nonsensical, dipped in some autotuned emo douchebag special sauce.

2. Succesful (feat. Trey Songz & Lil’ Wayne)
And why include Trey Songz on one of your songs when you yourself could in fact sing this bullshit hook in a nearly identical manner? Wouldn’t that save a paycheck? Also, if you’re going to insert a shitty Lil’ Wayne verse into your shitty song, do put in some more effort into hiding that it was added as an afterthought after Lil’ Weezy decided to show up at the studio after a weeklong sizzurp binge when everyone else had already left the studio.

3. Best I Ever Had
Or the reason I started giving a fuck about Aubrey. I used to dislike Best I Ever Had, but after repeated listens I realised why, to me, this comes off as insincere. This is Drake lying to every female on the planet that she individually is the absolute best thing to have ever happened to him, and getting away with it (He goes as far as to admit it on the intro). This is an admirable if immoral thing to pull off, but would mean jack shit if the flow and beats weren’t so tight. The lyrics are the superlative of corny but intentionally so. “And you don’t even have to ask twice, you can have my heart or we could share it like the last slice.” “Sweatpants, hair tied, chillin’ with no make-up on. That’s when you’re the prettiest. I hope that you don’t take it wrong.” And the flow gets switched up along with the tone Drake uses on the fictitious female this song is aimed at, which is pretty nice. Boi 1da’s instrumental has just the right balance of melody and bombast. Credit where credit is due, kids.

4. Uptown (feat. Bun B & Lil’ Wayne)
Wasn’t bad when I first heard it and it still isn’t but Lil’ Weezy sounds more annoying this time around. Speaking of him. Why should that motherfucker appear on three out of this EP’s seven tracks? I’m not an opponent of Wayne per se but here he does nothing but detract from the songs over all enjoyability. Oh right. He was at the time the most popular rapper on the planet, as well as Drizzy’s label boss and this EP had to move units in order for Drake to get a shot at a full-length. And also who gives a fuck about marginally important shit like talent and quality control anymore?

5. I’m Going In* (feat. Lil’ Wayne & Young Jeezy)
“I’m going in and I’ma go hard.” Who gave Weezy more sizzurp before he got into the booth? It doesn’t help that this is the hook, so you’ll get to hear it a gazilion times after each verse. Jeezy sounds as enthousiastic but incompetent as ever and Drake ends up having the best verse of the track to nobody’s surprise.

6. The Calm*
This is the Drake I learnt to hate over the years. Some whiny “introspective” lyrics over a crappy unfinished ambient sounding Noah 40 Shebib instrumental. Also, this isn’t calm, at all. “I called this shit the Calm, but I’m the furthest thing from calm.” Clever, no?

7. Fear*
Well, well, well. Aubrey said some shit about no autotune at the beginning of this track but it certainly didn’t take him long to break that promise. Everything I said about the Calm is also true about this, but DJ Khalil’s beat is a lot better than what 40 brought to the table on the previous track. I still didn’t really enjoy this but I didn’t hate it either.

Best track
Best I Ever Had, Uptown, Fear

Conclusions
So yeah. This EP sucks. Plain and simple. Some of it has to do with the more interesting cuts from the original release being taken off, some of it has to do with Lil’ Wayne’s presence and some of it with Drake recording while on his period again. Still, Best I Ever Had is a classic that’ll help anyone’s hiphop collection get better.

Recommendations
Considering that So Far Gone was already available in a better incarnation you shouldn’t pay a dime for that song or the EP. You should rather track down the best songs off the mixtape version and, hell I’m in a good mood, Fear and call it a night.

*Not on the So Far Gone mixtape


Tyler, the Creator – Bastard

Tyler, the Creator

Bastard

25-12-2009

OFWGKTA

Today’s review is on Tyler, the Creator’s mixtape Bastard on which he and some members of his crew, Odd Future, have made a name for themselves among hipsters and which led to Tyler getting signed to XL records to record his debut album Goblin. Tyler, the Creator is a rapper from L.A. who paints vivid  pictures of some pretty fucked up shit in his rhymes. In that sense he’s not unlike Eminem. (Although for the time being I would say I don’t see Tyler writing something as brilliantly disturbing as Em’s Just the Two of Us) However Tyler doesn’t ever sound as agitated as Marshall Mather does when he goes horrorcore. He sounds more calm and amused, not unlike Curtis Jackson does whenever he calls out whoever he doesn’t like this month. But unlike 50 Cent he isn’t locked in an everlasting tough guy pose. (Although he is locked in an everlasting crazy fuck pose. Like most rapper who aren’t Will Smith Tyler cannot possibly have done most of the shit he raps about because he’d be dead or in jail if he had. Although allegedly he did break a leg while stage-diving from the balcony of my hometown Amsterdam’s best concert joint Paradiso, so what do I know? Maybe he is as crazy as he portrays himself to be) His perpetual strangeness makes him similar to Kool Keith, ODB and/or Lil’ Wayne while not actually sounding like any of those people and finally his hipster sensibilities make his self-presentation a bit similar to that of Kanye and Pharrell while his “Dude, did ya hear that shit I said? xD”-attitude is a bit Eazy-E-ish. In other words he has a variety of musical influences but because they are so various and none of them dominates, so he comes off as a rather original sounding fella. The first song of his I got to hear was off course Yonkers with it’s lame ass, strictly-for-the-shock-value video and ditto lyrics which did off course inform me that he is in fact a decent rapper but didn’t necessarily make me want to check out more of his music. After that I was shown his guest appearance on the Neptunes-produced Pusha-T single Trouble on my Mind. Now that was some shit. While Pusha sticks to his usual Mafioso coke rapping on that song Tyler’schooses to completely ignore his host and rather rap about Reptar’s triceratops dinosaur dick. While Pusha is one of my favourite artists and actually dropped some really clever lines in the preceding verse Tyler made me forget all about him actually being on the song until Pusha returned for verse number two.

Anyway

Here’s a review of his debut mixtape Bastard, released for free onto the internet in 2009.While I’m not interested in reviewing mixtapes with Lil’ Wayne rapping over something his DJ stole off T.I.’s latest hit single this consists as far as I know of new songs with original beats by Tyler so that’s why this gets a pass.

1. Bastard

Well, after an intro which says fuck you to a bunch of people we get… another intro performed by a digitally lowered voice (probably his own) claiming to be Tyler’s therapist. Then Tyler starts talking some depressing shit over a piano and little more, except for a synth which occasionally plays a single note. Later there’s some synthetic strings sprinkled on top. This is a pretty effective introduction to the delusional world of our host. At the end the therapist’s voice asks Tyler what he would like to tell his dead father if he could tell him anything.

2. Seven

On this track Tyler answers the question posed in the previous one in such a grotesque way I had to replay Bastard to check whether he claimed if his father was dead or had just left his family and him. I’m still not sure… Anyway there’s a lot of good rapping on here, although if you’re quickly offended and/or without humor you should stay clear of this, but the beat, while serving it’s purpose doesn’t do much for me.

3. Odd Toddlers (feat. Casey Veggies)

While this beat is hella smooth. It’s not the best shit ever put on wax but it has an old school smooth jazz vibe I definitely dig. I’m pretty sure a sample must’ve been used because I can’t imagine anyone in the Odd Future crew doing these vocals. Alas, this was a free mixtape without credits other than produced by Tyler, the Creator so we’ll never know. Our host goes against the smoothness of the track by spitting among others less significant subjects lsd, transsexuals and selling his soul to the devil for 30% off. This is the third track in a row he mentions his father being dead so I’d appreciate some variation in subject matter, thank you very much. No idea if his father being dead is true by the way. Anyway, guest rapper Casey Veggies sounds tame in comparison to our host, but even Pusha T sounded boring compared to Tyler on that Trouble on my Mind track, while that guy actually would’ve been fine on his own. The instrumental switches up here and there but never do all the elements of the song change at the same time so there’s some continuity in this track. This was decent.

4. French (feat. Hodgy Beats)

Yeah I’m getting pretty much bored out of my mind by this shock-value-for-shock-value’s-sake-in-punchlines route the Creator seems to take every track. This Hodgy beats guy sounds decent enough but his lyrics don’t match Tyler’s. I’m beginning to see why Tyler is considered a hipster rapper. His use of the word faggot is apparently intended to be ironic, but being ironic for being ironic’s sake is pretty much the equivalent of cool suicide, which is hipsterdom in a nutshell. The beat sounds like a bastardisation (no pun intended) of the Neptunes beat for the Clipse’s Mr. Me Too, since again I don’t have all the credits I don’t know if Hodgy Beats co-produced this as his artist name would imply.

5. Blow

So that’s how the unnatural duet that is Trouble on my Mind has come to exist! Pusha-T sells Tyler his blow. It seems the therapist who pops up here and there on Bastard has given up on treating our host and has joined him in snorting yay because he sings along on this song’s chorus. Oh, and a caucasian female dies at the end of this track for those keaping score. It is implied, though not outright stated that Tyler is responsible. Ooooh edgy!

6. Pigs Fly (feat. Domo Genesis)

This sounds like a beat Kanye started making for 808’s & Heartbreak but decided not to finish it halfway. The lyrics consist of (yawn) more ironic horrorcore  punch lines.

7. Parade

Please refer to my comments on Pigs Fly

8. Slow it Down (feat. Hodgy Beats)

This track is unfocused like one of those randomly put-together mash-up videos of one of your favorite song and some terrible electronic crap which somebody made after getting really, really, really drunk and thought it was so aweseome he had to put it on youtube.

9. Ass Milk (feat. Earl Sweatshirt)

Features Odd Future’s m.i.a. member Earl Sweatshirt. He doesn’t sound as good as the hype would have you believe he is but I suppose his raps are impressive taking into consideration that he’s like 15. I would like to hear what he sounds like when he gets out of that boarding school in Africa his mother sent him after she heard some of the lyrics he spit with his friends. Maybe it were lyrics taken from this song that did the trick as some parents who’ve never heard Eminem may find Ass Milk offensive…

10. VCR/Wheels

Most of the beats on Bastard sound like a bunch of 15 year olds fucking around with fruityloops after choking on some of that good shiy… That’s probably not far from the truth I guess.

11. Session (feat. Hodgy Beats & Mike G)

Also, Tyler doesn’t seem to like bloggers. Well fuck you too!

12. Sarah

Some girl disses Tyler and ends up raped and murdered. Not that I believe one can’t make songs about rape and murder because I am against all forms of censorship, but raping and killing a bunch of women of the course of different tracks of a singular album will end up repetitive and boring. Couldn’t rob a bank, or illegaly download some music to switch uo the crimes occasionally? Now, the voice of the therapist is a policeman. I guess Odd Future had only one voice effect on their computer during the recording of Bastard, eh?

13. Jack and the Beanstalk

The voice which once represented a therapist now paraphrases Jay-Z’s What More Can I Say off his 2004 classic The Black Album. The hook consists of that vocal and Tyler repeating ‘Nigga, no hook!’ which is a goddamn lie

14. Tina (feat. Jasper & Taco)

This sounds like one of those lame ass southern bounce tracks by DJ Khaled, but one which has been given up on halfway during it’s creation. Tina is British slang for crystal meth, which I suppose isn’t something Tyler and his two guests rappers knew when they used it as this song’s title. Tina is also the name of Napoleon’s pet lama in that godawful Napoleon Dynamite movie, which I suppose is also unrelated to this song. The hook consists of the command  “Tina burn your fucking weed!” and the repeated exclamation of the word “Swag” so yeah… This was pretty fucking terrible.

15. Inglorious

The beat features some nice loungy piano keys but because of the Christmas bells and useless drums it still doesn’t click. Also, another song about his father being dead. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to wait to the next album anyway to find out if he got over it or found something else to rap about because Bastard is over.

Best tracks

Bastard, Odd Toddlers, Seven

Conclusions

Bastard has mostly terrible beats which sound like the producer said “Fuck it” halway during their creation, as well as repetitive subject matter  such as killing faggots, rape, murder, killing bitches and killing your dead father or some shit. It maybe meant ironically but it’s mostly entirely unfunny, although weed helps it go down, and as do the ridiculous videos Odd Future occasionally accompany their songs with but beyond shock value  yields no merit. This would be the kind of music that’s custom made for fifteen year old kids to listen to solely to  piss off their parents (and in the case of Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt it worked) but otherwise isn’t good for much. It should be noted that Tyler was only seventeen or eighteen when he recorded Bastard. As such it is definitely impressive enough and he’s had two years since to learn to make better fucking beats or reach out to some other producers and experience new things which he could rap about. But that doesn’t mean you should waste your precious hard drive space on this. Unless off course you are a Tyler/ Odd Future Fanatic and you got to Goblin before this and are desperate for a new fix, because this is on the internet for free. However, anyone fits that description already has this and would’ve stopped reading this review after I started bitching. Anyway, I like Tyler’s voice and some of his rhymes and he obviously has a lot of potential so I may review Goblin whenever I feel like it. But I doubt I’ll ever go listen to Bastard again.

Recommendations
For Tyler/ Odd Future fanatics only.

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