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Tape Adapter

Tape Adapter: March's Hip Hop Mixtapes Reviewed
Gary Suarez , March 14th, 2014 07:42

Never fear! Gary Suarez is here with this month's best and worst hip hop mixtapes on his hard drive

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Simply being on GOOD Music isn't enough. His 'So Appalled' verse more or less buried under the weight of Push, Ye, and Jay, his songwriting contributions to just about every cut off Yeezus crowded amid the rest of its credits, Cydel Young (aka CyHi The Prynce) doesn't shine like Big Sean or connect like Kid Cudi. Another bump in the road to his long-promised Hardway Musical full-length, his Black Histori Project dropped during the final week of February, noticeably tardy given the intent and thematic content.

Ostensibly building his tape around references to major figures in black history and culture, CyHi doesn't exactly honor their memory and sacrifices so much as appropriate them. On 'Mandela' he treats the recently departed South African icon like a catchphrase or punchline, his cadence on the hook echoing chart hits 'OG Bobby Johnson' and 'Hannah Montana.' CyHi rummages through his mentor's trash on 'Huey,' trolling for blasphemy while his guest King Louie spits truth. Later, 'Coretta' reduces the prominent civil rights leader to a mere love interest.

He's apparently absorbed Kanye West's ego, but none of his mojo. What results, then, are several attempts to match Yeezus' lyrical juxtaposition of social commentary and braggadocio. Infrequently it works well, as on the thoughtful anti-drug chronology 'Barry White' and the throwback jazzmatazz comforts of 'Cydel Young.' What's truly maddening is that all these smooth, soulful beats, provided by Anomaly, M16, Million $ Mano, Tec Beatz and others, could've gone to better use elsewhere.

100s - IVRY

Most rappers approach the topic of sex with the emotional maturity of a ten-year-old nose-picker, blathering about imaginary bitches and superhuman sexual prowess, typically in lieu of a better rhyme. Most of the time, these throwaways come across even less credibly than their claims about pushing weight. So when someone comes at it like Berkeley, CA's 100s - single-mindedly cocksure and with sophisticated swagger - one ought to take notice. His is an informed raw-dogging raunch that contemporary hip hop so starves for, a post funk neither P or G (and definitely not PG), dripping with sweat and other unmentionable fluids. Yet mention them 100s does, unafraid to spill a little on the shag carpet. 'Can A N*gga Hit It' and 'Ten Freaky Hoes' paint some fine black velvet pictures, but IVRY isn't all positive. 'Thru My Veins' reminds that love alone doesn't pay the bills, while 'Fuckin Around' puts timewasters on blast, cataloging all they're missing out on.

Chinx & French Montana - The Jack Move

Given his rap radio prowess, lengthy mixtape discography, and all-around ubiquity, the Coke Boys kingpin sounds at home here spitting over other people's hits like 'Money Baby' and 'OG Bobby Johnson'. But The Jack Move is primarily a stopgap showcase for Chinx, eager to parlay the recent success of his 'Feelings' (featured here in opportunistic fashion towards the end) into something bigger. Despite the billing, French scarcely appears, but when he does, you sure as hell know it. Conversely, Chinx's verses on these timely remixes ('Paranoid') feel seamlessly intercut with the originals as well, which bodes well the Queens emcee going forward. In some cases ('Own It,' 'Up Down'), DJ E-Stylez lets the track unnecessarily drag long past his contribution. Bonus original 'It's A Cold One' closes things out with a bombed out doo-wop groove and a harsh dose of reality, a formula worth repeating on his subsequent effort.

Lil Silk - Son Of A Hustler

W-w-wait, another Atlanta dude with a high-pitched voice? A sophomorically fun track, 'Rapper' and its corresponding video have got certain people ready to declare this poppy trap permutation a trend. The bubbling, bubbly vibes of cuts like 'Party Anthem' and 'Aye' go down easy like sugary soda, a tasty refreshment in reasonable portions. Seventeen songs worth, however, send corn syrup shockwave seizures that'd remove a diabetic's foot without the need for surgery. Active listening, then, is ill advised, as Lil Silk's helium hysteria has about as much range as an uncredited sitcom guest, a solitary joke droned to death. Son Of A Hustler evokes a carnival ride that refuses to discharge its passengers, dooming them to repeat the same spooky gags again and again. I want to believe the tape is actually biting satire, a shrewd parody of the strangely popular Young Thug. Otherwise, Lil Silk comes across two-dimensional, as cartoonish and zany as his neighbor.

Raz Simone - Cognitive Dissonance: Part One

With seasoned record executives Lyor Cohen, Todd Moscowitz, and Kevin Liles in his corner, Raz Simone seems poised for success. Whether or not this analytics-informed strategy proves to be more than an informed dice roll remains to be seen, but on content alone Cognitive Dissonance: Part One doesn't feel like a sure thing. The extensive acapella bars of opener 'They'll Speak' demonstrate that Simone has the skills and the stamina, yet when the beats finally kick off there's little to celebrate. His music selection errs on the side of caution, comprised mostly of subdued downbeat textures meant largely to add artificial heft to his forefront prose. Kicking off with a Kanye West interview snippet, 'Natural Resources' sells Simone's conscious credentials, yet only a few cuts later he's spouting off about his drug dealing and pimping past ('Don't Shine'). He almost seems to have fun on 'Thirsty', but then it's back to piano sorrows.

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