Tag Archives: Reprise Records

Saafir – Boxcar Sessions

Saafir
Boxcar Sessions
May 10, 1994
Qwest Records/ Reprise Records/ Warner Bros. RecordsWMG
053/100
Saafir - Boxcar Sessions - Front (1)
1. Grap the Train // 2. Swig of the stew // 3. Poke Martian (feat. Poke Martian) // 4. Playa Hata // 5. Pee Wee // 6. Battle Drill // 7. Westside (feat. King Saan) // 8. Worship the D // 9. Light Sleeper // 10. Rashinel (feat. Rashinel) // 11. Can-U-Feel-Me? // 12. No Return (Goin’ Crazy) // 13. Big Nose (feat. Big Nose) // 14. Just Riden // 15. Hype Shit // 16. Real Circus // 17. Bent // 18. The Instructor // 19. Joint Custody

Well that was unexpectedly boring. Saafir, a Digital Underground associate and an Oakland CA native, released his solo debut Boxcar Sessions in early 1994. It apparently has a cult status of sorts. This album is a combination of his own battle rhymes and awkward flow with mostly dusty, shuffling jazz drums, booming basslines, scratching and very little more in the way of melody. Every song on it sounds the same to such an extent that I literally can’t remember a single one of them for positive reasons, and I’ve just listened to this album three times. I’m a well-documented fan of all of Digital Underground’s projects so far but both the vocal side and the instrumental side of this album are underwhelming and pretentious, both of which could’ve been helped by adding some Shock G. Where the fuck is he at?

I would wonder why 2pac decided not to show up on this album but I can’t think of anything on here that he would sound appropriate over. There are many criticisms one can throw in 2pac’s direction but boring he was not.

This album was released on Qwest records which means Quincy Jones inked him a deal. Maybe Q doesn’t actually care about rap music and his only demands of the genre are for it to not interfere with his afternoon nap, in which case Boxcar Sessions achieves its goal nicely. Don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics either because when I finally forced myself to do so something apparently called Worship the Dick was on.

Boxcar Sessions is simply not very interesting and besides that, at nineteen tracks there’s much too much of it. Reviewing it however isn’t difficult, so at least it has that going for that, which is nice.

Best track
Worship the Dick

Recommendations
What do you think?

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Kara’s Flowers – The Fourth World

Kara’s Flowers
The Fourth World
August 19, 1997
Reprise RecordsWMG
060/100
Kara's Flowers - The Fourth World
1. Soap Disco // 2. Future Kid // 3. Myself // 4. Oliver // 5. The Never Saga // 6. Loving the Small Time // 7. To Her, With Love // 8. Sleepy Windbreaker // 9. Pantry Queen // 10. My Ocean Blue // 11. Captain Splendid // 12. Buddy Two-Shoes

Kara’s Flowers, an L.A. based alternative rock band consisting of Jesse Carmichael, Mickey Madden, Ryan Dusick and Adam Levine, released their debut album on Reprise Records, to the sounds of crickets in the summer of ’97. The only single off the album Soap Disco failed to make a splash on the charts and the guys gave up those silly rockstar dreams and went to college never to be heard from again.

Well that’s what should have happened, but in stead the foursome returned around the turn of the millenium with bringing guitar player James Valentine and the funk with them under the name Maroon 5, started to making hits doing catchy come on- and kiss off-numbers, and continue to be a thing to this day.

Maroon 5, once they became successful, maintained their success by moving (or mooOOooOOoo00ving) with the times, adjusting and incorporating trends into their formula, and therefor it is not surprising that The Fourth World sounds as though Adam and co. temporarely put away their Prince and Police records, took a time machine to 1997 and recorded a post-grunge record.

Off course Adam Levine has as about much in common with Kurt Kobain as Justin Bieber has with 2pac, and therefore it is commendable that Kara’s Flowers stays completely clear of Nirvana’s emo angst and alienation generation X-shtick and just writes pop-songs with a grunge-influence in stead.

The resulting album could serve as the score to a mediocre, late ’90s-to-early-naughties “search of self” young adult roadtrip-movie (Being that this album came into existence in ’97 it baffles me that a Kara’s Flowers roadtrip-movie wasn’t commissioned. That would not only have helped The Forth World move some units, but that would also have gotten the three band-members that aren’t Adam out of anonymity.)

I don’t know much about this particular genre of music, but as usual with Maroon 5 everything is, if nothing else, neatly done. These songs are catchy and inoffensive my ears. Making music that is both catchy and acceptable to people who aren’t fans of whatever particular genre they’re dabbling in at that particular moment in time has apparently always been Maroon 5’s forte (which conversely amost certainly means that purist fans of “real” grunge, garage rock, Brit-pop, power pop and other genres that are namechecked in other, better informed reviews of the Fourth World will probaby hate the everliving shit out of this album, for “watering down” their beloved music for “pop” audiences.)

Kara’s Flowers keeps things brief with eleven tracks, clocking under fourty minutes, which is also positive since nothing sticks out, and consistency tends to turn into dragging if stretched out too long.

The Fourth World should be taken for a spin by M5 fans, but not because it’s interesting to see the band form into what they eventually became . Their catchy songwriting and music, as well as Adam’s nasal falsetto are fully formed here already, all that’s missing are the funk/ soul influences, (Besides, the M5 boys aren’t that interesting to begin with, they make catchy pop-tunes, not progressive, avant-garde music)  but rather because there is plenty to like here for fans of Adam’s distinctive singing and these songs are fairly catchy and fun which is all one can want from a Maroon 5 album.

Best tracks
Soap Disco

Recommendations
If you find this album in the used bin for the price of some loose change you might as well take it with you.


the Genius – Words From the Genius, volume 1

the Genius
Words from the Genius, volume 1
Februari 19, 1991
Cold Chillin’ Records/ Reprise Records/ Warner Bros. Records/ WMG
060/100
the Genius - Words From the Genius

1. Come Do Me // 2. Phony As Ya Wanna Be // 3. True Fresh M.C. // 4. The Genius Is Slammin’ // 5. Words From a Genius // 6. Who’s Your Rhymin’ Hero // 7. Feel the Pain // 8. Those Were the Days // 9. Life of a Drug Dealer // 10. Stop the Nonsense // 11.  Living Foul // 12. Drama // 13. Stay Out of Bars // 14. What Silly Girls Are Made Of // 15.  Superfreak

The story of the Wu-Tang clan is a long one. One that, god willingly, will take this blog and any uneventful reader through a stack of 214 albums – and counting – released the group as a whole, its members, its affiliates and even through soundtracks of films the group’s leader, the RZA, scored.

The obvious starting point would be Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) since it is the album that actually started the movement. Fate however would have it that one of the ten core members of the clan; Gary “GZA/Genius” Grice actually had released an abum before the Clan existed. Words from the Genius is that album.

Released on the Juice Crew’s record label Cold Chillin’ Records in februari of 1991 and produced by Big Daddy Kane’s beatmaker Easy Mo Bee doesn’t show a trace of RZA, Meth, Rae, Ghost, Deck, U-God or ODB, which isn’t strange considering where and when this was released. What is strage is that there are no assists from Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, MC Shan or Marley Marl. Considering that he was signed to their label and was a complete unknown at the moment one would think that a guest verse by at least one of these legends would both be a major selling point and something that shouldn’t be too difficult to arrange.

But no, this is just Easy and GZA and the occasional no-name producer for the entirety of Words from the Genius with zero guest appearances, which in today’s rap music landscape is almost unthinkable.

Words From the Genius‘ instrumentals shouldn’t be compared to the dark cinematic instrumentals the RZA would serve up on Enter the Wu-Tang. Easy Mo Bee’s classic old school beats have little to do with Prince Rakeem, in stead one should put it toe-to-toe with albums by the aforementioned Kane and Biz Markie, classic, swinging and a bit simplistic but still comfortably above the old school average. Still this album released at the end of the period in which this style of rap was popular doesn’t add much to Cold Chillin’ Records’ list of achievements as Kane and Biz had done just about everything there was to do with this particular style of rap. Also since nobody purchased it it didn’t earn anybody a gold plaque.

As for GZA himself, sounds exactly how he would on subsequent releases, which is to say he’s in fine form, all that’s different this time around is the beats. Lyrical themes include GZA’s mic superiority over other rappers (Genius is Slammin’), nostalgia (Those Were the Days) and the dangers of pubs (Don’t Go Into bars).

As a whole Words is pleasant, jazzy oldschool affair that’s fine when it is on but evaporates immediately from the listener’s conscience when it stops spinning. It’s a pretty consistent release, the only song that outright sucks is the Wu-jack swing opener Come Do Me. The rest is just fine, but nothing special.

Best tracks
Those Were the Days
Drama
Genius Is Slammin’
Stay Out of Bars

Recommendations
If you’re a fan of the Cold Chillin’ records brand of rap music and you haven’t yet heard this you should definitely give this a spin. Fans of the Wu needn’t really bother.