GHOST MC – Super Natural Senses (2012)


From the same label that brought you Atomic Farmhouse. Listen to it here.

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It was a nice surprise when I recognized the instrumental of “Super Naturalness,” which was produced by 9th Wonder for a Jean Grae track. The sample of The Marvelettes’ Uptown resonates nicely with GHOST’s verses, who instantaneously gives off an eery similarity to Domo Genesis of Odd Future, at least in terms of his torpid tone, voice, and flow. This track is all about making his infatuation for making music as well as his affinity for pecuniary gain as clear as can be.

Owners of old records won’t be left scratching their heads at the start of “A Speech of 1000 Words.” I was never a huge fan of crackling, unless it’s used to stimulate an era or trigger nostalgia, as it is in this case. The theme, centered around staying true to himself while still blowing up, isn’t exactly one that is unheard of, but the occasional flurry of insightful lyricism more than makes up for it.

In an unusually pivotal transition from the last track, “50/Fifty” introduces itself as a braggadocio-esque, abrasive, and discordant track. Despite this, and it’s undeniable repetitiveness, it’s still pretty catchy and GHOST comes through with some hard-hitting bars.

“Spittin’ lyrical warfare, that’s why I’m in the booth with camo on.”

His far-from-desolate lyricism is put to work on “Ghost Ship,” as he reflects on dreaming without his eyes closed, among other topics. This extends into the next and final track, “SUNRISE.” The song comes in with a Cool Kids feel to it, and sticks with it. I can’t help but feel a little biased when I say it’s undoubtedly my favorite on the 5-track album.

For Super Natural Senses, in addition to bringing the technical aspects into account, I assessed this EP in accordance with the fact that GHOST is a relative neophyte to the game, and is consequently receptive of a number of contrasting styles, so inaccuracies are inevitable, but at the same time is presented with the pre-eminence that is time, for betterment. I have to say though, despite his sophomoric status, the guy does an admirable job of separating himself from the tasteless unoriginality that is becoming the norm for upcoming emcees, while still making music that has the potential to reach today’s casual music enthusiasts. Keep at it, and to those reading, keep an eye out for GHOST MC in the time to come.

Overall: 68/100

Brother Ali – The Bite Marked Heart (2012)


The Bite Marked Heart is the latest EP from rhymesayer Brother Ali. With its release coincided with valentines day, it consists of 7 tracks dealing with both the positive and negative aspects of love. If you have listened to Ali’s other work you will know that he’s one of the best at discussing the particular topic. With his ability to give honest, heartfelt insights of his past experiences without getting all soppy like others tend to do, he could easily make a career giving relationship advice if he wasn’t a rapper.

It opens with Shine On, which features the beautiful voice of Nikki Jean. This takes the form of a narrative story over the soulful beat, as he pretends to be a waiter just to interact with the young lady for a brief moment before getting caught out; “I’m sorry, I don’t really work here… awkward”

Electric Energy tells the story of a man who sleeps with multiple women but still feels empty without real love. As the title suggests, the beat features funky electronic synths.

I’ll Be Around is the first of two tracks produced by long-term collaborator Ant and features Phonte from Little Brother along with a chorus from Stokley Williams. This has a nice chilled out vibe before the following I Can’t Wait sets up the second half of the EP in a more somber manner.

Years reflects on his failed marriage which ended in divorce after 10 years. In comparison to Walking Away from his 2007 album The Undisputed Truth, which was extremely critical of his ex-wife, this is much more forgiving as he acknowledges his own part in their troubled relationship.

I was just so hungry for affection
that the first time another gave affection I was in the trap
I let her stand in for you
trynna recapture the magic that I knew
thats why I fell for it
because when she held me in her arms I pretended they were yours
I don’t fault you for being mad at me
we were family, I put you through a tragedy
Can’t blame you for losing sanity

Backed by the piano-driven beat produced by Ant, this has a deep personal significance which really shows through and is probably my favorite song on the EP.

Haunted Housebroken is about cheating and deceit, before The Bite Marked Heart closes with the song of the same name. This is more positive than the previous three, ending on an optimistic note about his new found love and is the only one that could truly be described as “romantic”.

Overall, Brother Ali serves up a brilliant account of love and heartbreak through a mixture of storytelling and introspectiveness. Backed by the production skills of Ant and Jake One, The Bite Marked Heart is not only a welcome addition to Ali’s impressively consistent discography but one of the most concise narratives of love and breakup ever seen in hip-hop.

Best tracks: Shine On, Years, I’ll Be Around
Overall: 87/100

Gensu Dean – Forever EP (2012)


Mello Music Group have been making a name for themselves in recent years as one of the most prominent independent hip-hop labels, with a number of promising artists and critically acclaimed releases they have already been compared to the likes of Rhymesayers and Stones Throw Records.

One of the most exciting artists to come of out the Mello umbrella is Texas based producer Gensu Dean. He uses the vintage SP1200 (as used by legends such as Pete Rock and J Dilla) to create soulful beats with skillfully chopped samples and gritty drums.

“Forever” features rapping from hip-hop veteran Large Professor, who rides the beat with ease and displays impressive lyrical prowess.

At the fork in the road I took the right route
Now it’s lights out for all that bullshit dudes be tryna write about
Hip Hop is serious it come from the streets
Can’t fuck wit’ the felons then run to the police

The song was originally released in 2010 but has been reworked for MMG’s 7″ Series, although the year has just begun I can safely say this is my favorite track so far.

The EP includes the standard version as well as a remix and instrumental. “Forever” is available for free download on bandcamp and will also appear on his debut album “Lo-Fi Fingahz” which is due out on Feburary 28th.

Overall: 93/100

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib (MadGibbs)-Thuggin EP (2011)


 

Gary, Indiana MC Freddie Gibbs hooked up with Oxnard, CA producer/MC/DJ/everything else, to drop the unexpected Thuggin EP late in 2011. This EP, commonly referred to as MadGibbs, contains 2 tracks of Gibbs over Madlib beats and 4 instrumentals including those to the 2 vocal tracks.

Right after Madlib’s Medicine Show wraps up for 2011, he drops this gem on us. Whether is was by chance meeting, or if it was all part of Lord Satan’s plan, he hooks up with Freddie Gibbs, hot off the release of his Cold Day In Hell mixtape.  A surprising combination based on the fact that Madlib is part of Stones Throw, which specializes in strange underground music, while Gangsta Gibbs is signed to Young Jeezy’s CTE. All disbelief aside, this project happened, and thank whoever you pray to that it did.

The first track is called Thuggin, which is about, what else, general thuggery. Gibbs spits gangsta bravado over a high pitched piano loop for 3 minutes and 22 seconds. Gibbs exhibits his incredible flow and ability to ride the beat, mixing internal and multisyllabic gutter rhymes in his tale about “lurking where you living in the night time.” Gibbs also throws a possible shot at OJ Da Juiceman, Gucci Mane, and that whole tier of rappers, saying he is “still lyrically sharper than any short bus shorty”. Putting my love for the Juiceman aside, this is still a dope line, and just one of the many Gibbs spits nonstop.

The other track Gibbs raps on is called Deep, where he talks about being “Deep inside the ghetto” over a funky flip. It would be surprising to hear someone with such lyrical talent alliterating when talking about slanging cocaine and other gangsterism, but veterans of Mr. Gibbs are already used to this. The only problem with this track, is that is clocks in at only 2 minutes and 4 seconds.

The instrumentals on the EP are slightly disappointing though. Besides the instrumentals to the 2 Gibbs laced tracks, we get Riot Call which is a slow tribal drum beat that has nearly no momentum. We also get Cold On The Blvd which is a fast paced funky beat that would be at home on a Madlib beat tape, but pales in comparison to the 2 instrumentals Freddie Gibbs was given to bless.

Madlib & Gibbs have announced a follow up album to this EP sometime in 2012, so let’s hope Gibbs isn’t in the MF DOOM state of mind and this project actually sees the light of day. If this EP is any indication of what is to come, Gibbs may be one of the first rappers to have universal appeal to nearly all hip hop fans, as well as the ability to craft an incredible collaboration with the Beat Konducta himself.

 

90/100