Friday, August 26, 2016

R.E.S Records - The RESurrection Compilation

R.E.S Records was a Christian Rap label from the unforgiving streets of Houston, TX. The label was started in the mid nineties by Richard Hunt and Otto Osterman. Their main objective was to give a home to the aspiring local Christian Rap emcees in Houston while also keeping them on the right track. The two founders quickly recruited BDI and Dez from the infamous group, Nuk Ruk. The two members from Nuk Ruk were considered to be the primary pieces and the main source of strength for the record label. It was through their help that the record label eventually got more artists on board such as, Tre-9, Snapz, 20/Twenty, Manifest, NSC, The Foundation and last but not least, the singer Jamecia Williams. Work on this compilation began as soon as the crew was assembled in the early part of 1999. It was completed in the year 2000 and released as a debut album by the R.E.S Records. Production is solely handled by the masterful, BDI and he does not disappoint. BDI's rhythmical pattern is quite unique. He fuses the traditional style of Hip-Hop with the flavorful Southern style. He does this with not only the use of a typical drum machine but also with the use of live instrumentation. Most notably through the work of various guitars and pianos. He also adds his distinct scratches with the turntables which ends up being the final key ingredient for his magnificent beats. Lyrically the album also excels. There is never a dull moment due to the various artists used to create the rhymes. Each artist brings an intellectual style to the table and claim their stake on the microphone with utter precision. Word play is presented with riddling rhyme schemes which makes the end result thoroughly captivating. BDI, Dez, Tre-9 and 20/Twenty are the standouts here but the rest of the acts are not too far behind. Guest appearances are made by Reverse, Queen D, MOG, DJ Excell, B-Boy and Kathy Abshire. All in all, this is an excellent compilation by the label and a must have for any Christian Rap fan. They could have easily talked about materialistic possessions, women, money and the like but they chose to go against the grain. It is always good to hear artists who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in and go against the flow of the norm. The album gives off a truthful yet positive message and it can only be deciphered by listening to their powerful and thought provoking music.

Deadly Verses
Verbal Revolution

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Prime Time - Duck Tape'n

Michael Williams, better known as Prime Time, is a rapper from the savage swamps of New Orleans, LA. He first appeared on the scene with the notorious Bounce group known as, Partners-N-Crime. He was heavily featured on their earlier albums and was almost considered as an unofficial third member of the famed group. It was through their tutelage and guidance, that Prime Time was able to come out of their shadows and establish himself as a southern artist. Duck Tape'n is his debut solo album and it was released in 1998 on South Coast Music Group. Production is handled by the magnificent, Leroy "Precise" Edwards and he tries to bring his signature style to the table. The beats are mostly derived for the genre of Bounce with the exception of a few songs. Some of them are sample driven while the rest are about as original as can be. Although Precise's past resume is an excellent one and his work truly speaks for itself, he really just does not bring the same level of craftsmanship on this release. There are some tracks that are very good and then there are some that are dull and bland. The same can be said when it comes to the lyrical content. Prime Time crosses the fine line between average and great. He flirts with a bit of word play but tends to rely more on common rhyme schemes. His tone along with his pace are perfect for Bounce music and he takes full advantage of what is offered to him. The subject matter ventures into different categories but for the most part stays with typical Bounce subjects such as project rapping, roll calling, call & response, etc. Guest appearances are made by Partners-N-Crime, L.O.G., Tre-8, Drama Squad, Ms. Tee, Bayou Boy, G-Hunter, Ché and Mary Jane. Overall this was a decent album by the N.O. native and it help spawn a few local hits in The Boot. Although the record does often revert back to its' Bounce roots, it certainly does have a lot more to offer than just that. The album contains various elements as a whole and it's not just restricted to the genre of Bounce. In the end, that is what truly separates it from the rest and makes it that much more entertaining to listen to. Also to note, is the presence of Partners-N-Crime on the front cover with Kangol Slim on the left and Misdemeanor on the right. This was Prime Time's way of paying homage and showing love for the two people who always had a helping hand in his success as an artist.

Deadly Verses
Where My Souljas At

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Archie Lee - Da Mista Masta

Archie Tatmon, better known as Archie Lee, is rapper from the Northside of Houston, TX. He is also one of the original members of the infamous, Swishahouse. The Swishahouse is a collective which was founded by Micheal Watts in the mid nineties to counteract all the fame and success the Screwed Up Click was receiving. He recruited rappers from the Northside and started releasing mix tapes with Slowed & Chopped freestyles of his own crew. The tapes caught the city like a wild fire, especially on the northern end. Some liked and even appreciated what Watts was doing, while others discredit his approach due to the fact that DJ Screw and his comrades were the originators of the Chopped & Screwed mix tapes. Although the latter is true and non debatable, it was after DJ Screw's unfortunate passing in 2000, when the Chopped & Screwed or Slowed & Chopped really caught on to the rest of the world. It was Micheal Watts along with O.G. Ron C, who led the charge and re-introduced the rest of the nation to this unorthodox technique. Da Mista Masta by Archie Lee is the very first solo debut of a Swishahouse artist and it was released in 2000 on Swishahouse Records and SwishaBlast Entertainment. The production is manged by Micheal Watts, G-Dash, Bigg Tyme, Micheal Wilder, Jesse Brown and Cedric Page. The beats are not ground breaking but they are passable. Although they contain various elements and have a solid foundation, they still seem very simple and sometimes even mundane. The rhythms mostly cater to the new style of Swang & Bang, which is understandable since this is a release from the new millennium. Lyrical content of the album is also tolerable. Archie Lee won't break any barriers lyrically and certainly won't set any new standards for the Southern region. His flow style is quite common and does not do anything for the listener. Also, his tone and pitch jumps around quite a bit which in turn makes him go off beat a lot. Now, that may be by design and not by some kind of internal flaw. Nevertheless, he still attacks the microphone with passion and flair. Guest appearances are made by Slim Thug, Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Lester Roy, Big Tiger, J-Dawg, Lil' Mario, Big Pic, A.D., Sabwarfare, Lil' Ron, Blyndcyde, Bongo, Nancy Taylor and Reginald Hackett. A lengthy guest list is certainly what the main artist needed to give the record an extra boost. All in all, this is a decent effort by the Houston native and it helped the label get going in the right direction. It was after this release, when management realized what components were working and what was not. They started to cater more towards the newer generation of Southern Rap and really propelled themselves into the mainstreams. In the end, this record is a humble beginning which stands as a testament of their hard work and dedication to their art.

Deadly Verses
Can I Shine ft. Lil' Ron & Slim Thug


Album Notes
* Lester Roy designed the logo for Swishahouse Records.
* Slowed & Chopped albums by the Swishahouse have an alternative blue cover.
  

Friday, August 12, 2016

Lil' O - Blood Money

Oreoluna Magnus Lawson, better known as Lil' O, is a rapper who hails from the southwest side of Houston, TX. His alias is a direct reference to his actual height, which is listed at five feet. He is also an original member of the legendary Screwed Up Click. Lil' O first appeared on the scene with the breakout single "Can't Stop," which featured Destiny's Child in 1997. The single was a instant hit on the streets of Houston and in return made him into an overnight celebrity. Blood Money is his highly anticipated debut album and it was released in 1999 on Game Face Entertainment. A gang of different producers were used to reach the end result. The likes of Crazy C, Chicken Hawk, Grizz, Double D, Swift and Willy Malone handle the bulk of the duties while Pimp C of UGK also chips in on one of the tracks. The beats can simply be described as that classic H-Town Sound. The rhythms are all funk laden and are very groovy to say the least. They are a true and classic representation of the older swang and bang sound which was very prominent with artists of the Screwed Up Click. The producers really do a solid job with the rhythms and the set up is perfect for the artist. Lil' O is an adept lyricist. He relies heavily on clever rhyme schemes and witty cliches. His pattern is not unique but it can still catch the listener by surprise. What really sets him apart is his southern tone, which upon hearing is very distinct and sharp. His pace is quite variable thus allowing him to adapt to any kind of song. Guest appearance are made by DJ Screw, UGK, Fat Pat, E.S.G., Big Pokey, C-Note, Will Lean, Yungstar, Hawk, Lil' Flip, 3-2, Al-D, Big Moe, Enjoli, Ronnie Spencer, Billy Cook, Bad Actaz, Slikk Breeze and Dana Jackson. A lengthy star studded guest list is customary for any Screwed Up Click release and while it may seem a bit heavy, it certainly does not over shadow the main artist. Overall this is a very stable piece with fifteen solid tracks to boast. The album was well worth the wait from the initial Maxi Single. It sold 20,000 copies upon release without any kind of promotion. The record could of done a lot better if it had proper promotion but that was not possible due to Lil' O serving time in the Harris County Jail. The album also beautifully withstands the test of time which is why it was re-released in 2006 with a bonus Chopped & Screwed disc. Lil' O is still active today, while his style of flow has altered a bit over time, his passion for music and loyalty to his crew remains unchanged.

Deadly Verses
Who's Snitching ft. UGK


Album Notes
* Lil' O is also a member of The Bar None Click.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Ill Relatives - Illustrations

The Ill Relatives is a group that hails from the eerie swamps of Baton Rouge, LA. It consists of Verge, Ryal, Drack Muse and Kool DJ Supamike. The collective was formed in the bustling halls of Southern University in South Baton Rouge. Two of the members are from the state of Illinois while the other two are from Louisiana. Hence the term "Ill," the "IL" is for Illinios and the other "L" is for Louisiana. The group is best known for emphasizing their deep and intellectual lyrics that are fused with some true and traditional Hip Hop style of beats. A type of style that is not a common practice in the state of Louisiana aside from the Psycho Ward and maybe even Bionik Brown (R.I.P.). Nevertheless, the group stayed humble and persistent and eventually released their full length debut album, Illustrations in 2001 on Nu Element Recordings. The production is managed by Gensu Dean and Drack Muse. Together, they team up to provide an eclectic composition of rhythms that are simply made but thoroughly engaging. A blend that is not only mellow but also very edgy and contemporary. The recipe for constructing the rhythms is of the olden days of Hip Hop and while it won't break any barriers musically, it still gives off a very refreshing vibe. Lyrically the album is also on point. The members are no slouch on the microphone and their verbal artistry is evident by their slick yet thought provoking rhymes. They take turns unleashing their various styles and their chemistry is certainly very commendable. Word play and technique are given the utmost attention so that the listener is immediately baited and hooked. The record closes out at a notable total of sixteen versatile tracks. Overall it's a very strong release by the group and one that can hold up against any premier release. Although this is another one of those hidden underground gems that are not easily located, it still has the power to challenge the mainstreams. In the end, it is up to the listener to discover the uncanny abilities of this solid work of art.

Deadly Verses
Illustrations

Album Notes
* The rhythm machine on the front cover is an Akai MPC2000.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Arrested Development - 3 Years, 5 Months And 2 Days in the Life Of...

Arrested Development is a collective that was founded in the sprawling city of Atlanta, GA. It consists of Speech, DJ Headliner, Baba Oje, JJ Boogie, Rasa Don, Za', Montsho Eshe, One Love, Aerle Taree and Dionne Farris. Speech formed the group in the late eighties, when he met DJ Headliner at the Art Institute Of Atlanta. Now, at the time of their meeting, Speech already had a group called the Disciples Of Lyrical Rebellion. Together, they gradually recruited a couple of vocalists as well as some musicians and renamed the group to Arrested Development. Each member brings their own distinct and provocative style to the table. For instance, Baba Oje is the spiritual elder of the group and provides valuable insight and guidance while Montosho Eshe is a vocalists, dancer and fashion coordinator. JJ Boogie and Za' are both guitarists while Rasa Don is a percussionist. 3 Years, 5 Months And 2 Days in the Life Of... is their debut album and it was released in 1992 on Chrysalis Records. Production is mainly handled by Speech and Headliner, whom then delegate and coordinate who and what to use on a given track. The record is full of live instrumentation and it is definitely a treat to listen to. The beats are all assembled from the ground up and extra attention is given to detail. A couple of tracks are inspired by samples but the rest are all original as can be. The end result is a very crisp and upbeat selection of rhythms that fit the group's style perfectly. The album is also quite strong lyrically. Speech and his fellow vocalists are far from anything ordinary. Their tones, delivery and styles are incorporated with intricate precision into their songs. Again, Speech handles the bulk of the duties on the microphone and displays his lyrical prowess on just about every track. The subject matter is what quickly sets this album apart from others. The group touches on various subjects such as religion, peace, race, unity and the ever lasting struggle for equality. All of this is embedded into their songs and delivered musically with a clear and positive message. The album rounds out at an impressive total of sixteen choice cuts that are all equally enjoyable. Upon release, the record was met with high praise and instantaneous success. This also led to the group winning two prestigious Grammy Awards. The success was short lived though, the group's follow up album was considered a failure while creative and financial disputes erupted within. This eventually led to the breakup in the year 1996 with most members going their separate ways. Speech would then explore the solo route for a few years before reuniting them in the year 2000. By that time it was a little too late and the collective would not experience the same level of success as they did back in 1992 because Southern Rap was headed in a whole new direction. In the end, the group was admired for their passion and originality. They ended up paving the way for many other socially conscious artists while also raising awareness of the situation at hand.

Deadly Verses
People Everyday


Deadly Video




Album Notes
* The album's title is actual length of time it took the group to get a recording contract.
* DJ Headliner did not participate in the reunion.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

PJ

     PJ is a rapper that represents from the murky bayous of Houston, TX. This is his self titled debut and it was released in 2002 on Black Ink Records. PJ, along with producer DMD, put forth this effort in hopes of achieving some attention. Sadly, very little is known about the artist or the record label for that matter and any information regarding them would be greatly appreciated. Production is handled largely by DMD while assisted by J. Sanchez and PJ. The rhythms are quite bland to be honest and really don't have too much going for them. They seem to be electronically derived and are missing structural aspects and core fundamentals. There is no differentiation in tracks and each cut sounds strikingly similar to the next. The beats are also kept very simple which in return gives off a very mundane result. Lyrically, the album won't take home any awards and the basic approach used by the artist will also not help its' cause. PJ's rhyme pattern is quite plain and repetitive. Word play is non-existent and the subject matter stays pretty typical. While his tone and pitch are somewhat decent,  it still cannot capitalize on the lyrical flaws mentioned above. Featuring on the album is Khaliq and Issac. Also, the very odd and aberrant artwork was designed by, Stretch Work Graphics. The record spans over a total of sixteen tracks and unfortunately there are only a handful that are worth listening to. The end result is a very lackluster one and it can be easily neglected as a whole. It seems as if the album was recorded in one sitting inside someone's kitchen or basement. It deeply suffers from critical mixing and mastering issues. Now, granted this is an underground release and the quality criteria is often a bit relaxed related with those type of acts, it still cannot excuse the frivolous mistakes displayed on this record. The artist must come correct, especially when they are representing for the great state of Texas.

Album Notes
* PJ is not to be confused with PJ of the Boss Hogg Outlawz.
* DMD is not to be confused with DJ DMD of the Inner Soul Clique.