The Rowdee Review: Pharoahe Monch “W.A.R.”

•April 1, 2011 • 1 Comment

Every now and then, hip-hop can sense my overall dissatisfaction with its current state and it will, without warning, put an album in front of me that soothes and reassures me that all could be well within it once again. Pharoahe Monch’s latest release, W.A.R., not only did that for me, it just reconfirmed that some M.C.’s subject lists don’t include rims, the club, & money that they may or (probably) may not be getting. Monch returns to drop a gem on us all and, as usual, the results are impressive. “W.A.R” puts Monch’s witty, complex, uber-verbose flow on display, allowing him room to reaffirm his status as one of illest wordsmiths of all-time. From the Idris Elba-assisted opening, mimicking a plot from an episode of ’24’, to the calls for change in ‘Clap’ and all points between and beyond, Monch foregoes the common refrain for folks to meet at the club; instead, he’d rather we uplift ourselves out of this hole we’ve fallen into. Radio-friendly? Probably not, although that is reflective of how radio sucks today and not of the quality of this project. Monch’s music has always been about delivering words that actually mean something & W.A.R. is no exception to that. Although there are many nice tracks on this one, the standout for me has to be the incredible “Assassins” featuring Jean Grae and Royce da 5’9″, trading verses that slam into the track like heavyweight blows…..all in all, this album is a satisfying reminder of all of the good things that hip-hop can still deliver to us……I give it 4 out of 5 stars (gotta work on my rating system, not feeling the stars).



The Rowdee Review: Fat Joe featuring Raekwon “Pushing Keys”

•March 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Fat Joe’s career reminds me of one of my favorite Biggie lyrics; his hottest work almost always drops unexpectedly, like birdshit. Since the explosion that was “Lean Back” back in ’04 & his subsequent beef w/50 Cent (did they ever squash that?), Joey Crack has largely been hit or mis musically. This spring, however, FJ once again brings some heat to the game with the release of his latest “Pushing Keys”. Over the simple thump of a 70’s R&B slow jam-styled track, FJ displays some lyricism and-dare I say-hunger, all while admonishing the wack among us, as well as dropping a gem or two for the youngsters in the game. Joey’s flow remains intact, I’m happy to report, showing off that hard edged NYC mentality we’ve come to know and expect from him. A shout out should go out to the great Raekwon who foregoes any rhyming this time around, instead choosing to deliver one of his patented rants on “fake industry” cats; holla at him when y’all “start wearing Russian ice” or else….be warned. This is one of those burners that will fill up a mixtape nicely…..I fully expect to hear it all spring and summer long.


The Rowdee Review: Killers, J. Cole

•March 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’ve gotta be honest; I’ve seen and heard enough from J. Cole at this point to come to the conclusion that he’s going to be around for a while……dude’s got skills. The Roc Nation signee has basically set fire to everything that has come his way, from his guest turn on The Blueprint III to his prolific appearances on the mixtape circuit. So it comes as no surprise, at least to me, that he’s dropped another gem with “Killers”, which hit the Internet just within the last week or so. Cole’s advanced wordplay skills are on display here, placing himself in the persona of someone who has committed a murder and is making a confessional call to his mother. The dark nature of the material is offset brilliantly by some classic samples of Richard Pryor on the hooks, using comedy to somehow lighten the mood. This, combined with a track that could be a U2 album outtake given it’s smoothness, speaks to Cole’s artistry and maturity, words not often associated with hip-hop these days. I’m guessing that this guy’s label debut will drop later this summer and if this is the level of work to be expected, then the weather won’t be the only heat source to deal with.

The Rowdee Review: Pennjamin Bannekar “ILLWrite”

•March 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment


The city of Chicago has continually churned out quality hip-hop as of late, providing a steady stream of acts that have made a significant impact on music.  Hoping to be the next figure to emerge from the Chi is an emcee known as Pennjamin Bannekar, whose new single “ILLwrite” attempts to establish the cleverly named artist into our collective thought process.  Bannekar’s smooth delivery and witty wordplay blend nicely with the horn heavy production of the track, showcasing a developing skill set that has him a few steps ahead of the average rapper getting airplay in today’s cookie cutter urban radio dynamic.  Is this the next “guy”?  That remains to be seen.  What can be said is that this song is a decent starting point for him, definitely something to build on.  If this is what we can expect, we might have to add him to the already crowded roster of Chicago’s ill emcees at some point…..we’ll see

The Rowdee Review: “3 Headed Monster” featuring Jakk Frost, Nico the Beast and Reef The Lost Cauze

•March 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Every so often, I come across a track that gives me hope that true lyricism in hip-hop isn’t dead just yet.  Three of the illest M.C.’s that Philly has to offer, Jakk Frost, Nico the Beast & Reef the Lost Cauze come together and deliver a classic lesson in how a collabo should go on the burner “3 Headed Monster”. These veteran wordsmiths bring their A-games to this one, with each delivering their own specific trademark bruising flow over a melodic piano driven track that perfectly complements all of the mayhem and destruction being laid down upon it.  When this much talent is gathered in one place, good things are bound to happen and this has never been truer than here.  My only real disappointment is that the track ends rather abruptly after three plus minutes; I could have rode with that for another couple of minutes, real talk.

The Rowdee Review: “Bad Weather Classic” Zilla Rocca

•March 4, 2011 • 4 Comments

Full disclosure: I was reluctant to even write this review simply because ZR and some of Yadibox’s affiliated acts have had beef in the past. Ultimately, however, reviewing music is what we do here & at the end of the day, the quality of an artist’s output is all that truly matters. Having said all of that, Zilla Rocca’s latest effort, Bad Weather Classic, is an atmospheric foray into sounds and emotions not often associated with hip-hop. Each of the EP’s five tracks has an almost pirated signal type of quality to it and in this forum, ZR and his cohorts (Mally, Curly Castro, Small Professor, Face One) make it all seem effortless. Standout track? I’ll go with the title cut, a musical cousin of ‘Run This Town’…..all in all, this EP makes me look forward to what comes next from Rocca & crew.

The Rowdee Review: Katy Perry featuring Kanye West “E.T.”

•February 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Katy Perry and Kanye West have gotten together for a remix of her track ‘E.T.’ and the resulting track stands poised to blare out of cars and clubs alike all spring long. ‘Ye breaks out some left over auto-tune crooning from 808’s and Heartbreak, lending the song an appropriate other worldly feel and complementing Perry’s oft quirky delivery perfectly. Stand-out line? Kanye sets the scene as only he can: ‘Pockets on Shrek/rockets on deck/ tell me what is next/ alien sex’……this one might have the legs to make a run thru Pop music’s conscience throughout spring break and into summer’s dog days.

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