Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mixtapes of the Month

Here's a new feature that should become a regular here: some of the best mixtapes that dropped in the past month.
Après le jump

Oab first came to my attention with his excellent one-off "Danny DeVito," which makes good use of hilarious sound-clips by the song's namesake. This is the first mixtape by the Virginia State junior. As the title indicates, the album is entirely written about the ladies of Oab's life and he admits on Datpiff that this was not the easiest topic to write an entire album about. I do wish that Oab had allowed himself a bit more freedom with regards to song topics. However, this is definitely a promising debut, and it's got some nice production on it by Oab himself, along with 9th Wonder on "Misses in Action."
Recommended Tracks: "Misses in Action"

9th Wonder & Jay-Z- Black American Gangster
American Gangster is one of the more underrated items in Jay-Z's discography. It did well critically and commercially but didn't feature any majorly successful singles. This is a nice opportunity to revisit some of Jay-Z's best, most focused rapping (along with a reminder on "Hello Brooklyn (Still Politics)" that before Lil Wayne became a sad joke he was a good rapper). 9th Wonder was the main producer for Little Brother and he's been one of the best out there for years, specializing in oh-so-smooth soul samples. The two collaborated once in real life on the stellar "Threat" off The Black Album. Jay-Z has always sounded right at home over this kind of production (see Kanye's work on The Blueprint).
Recommended Tracks: "I Know (What You Like) (ft. Pharrell & The Jackson 5)", "Black American Gangster" 
Raekwon- Lost Jewlry
Raekwon has enjoyed a surprisingly excellent late-career resurgence since 2009's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. 2. This mixtape, like Raekwon himself, is not flashy. It's mostly a solo effort, with only four features (including Freddie Gibbs and the lesser known Maino, who puts in a memorable verse on "To The Top"). The production isn't handled by any big names, but rather a collection of hard-working veterans and up-and-comers. In particular, the relatively unknown Roads-Art makes a big impression with work on four of the 13 tracks. Overall, this mixtape is not really anything new for those familiar with Raekwon's career, not that there's anything wrong with that. While "gangsta rap" has basically become a meaningless term, Raekwon has made his career on literally rapping about being a gangster, doing it quite convincingly and inventively. And while rappers have referenced movies like Goodfellas and Scarface for decades, few other rappers' albums sound like they could easily be made into excellent, grimy crime movies. The only real missteps on here are the two "love" (or as close as Raekwon songs can get to love) songs with R&B singers on them and weak production ("Hold You Down" and "86'").
Recommended Tracks: "Never Can Say Goodbye", "For the Listeners"

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