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Saturday, 6 September 2008
album review: phashara - the storybook adventure
Now Playing: shawn lee & clutchy hopkins - clutch of the tiger
Topic: 2008 reviews

The Storybook Adventure
[Beatmonstas Entertainment]
Release Date:  July 1, 2008

[blogger's note:  i've been bumping this album for the past two months and can't believe that i'm just writing the review now.  shame on me.  time continues to be my greatest enemy, i suppose...]

Chicago-based MC/beatmaker Phashara has crafted a head-turning debut album, one that brings to mind voices from the genre's golden age while still speaking to hip-hop's present audience.  A series of skits featuring children's voices sets the tone for chapters to unfold, revealing words of guidance, wisdom, and caution.  "Young World" provides sonic dap towards the next generation while "The Storm" examines the state of rap music, from the misguided minds participating in it to the uninformed pundits that rail against it.  "Stop Frontin'" speaks on the deadly ramifications of being something other than yourself and "Bill Red" presents Phashara's past as an open book, sharing his thoughts on an absentee father.  The production is crisp and tight throughout the album, musically reflecting the vocal sentiments uttered.  The lovestruck tone of "Cause U Fly" is accentuated by the circular, dizzying patterns of the backing track indicative of nervous energy.  While moments of verbal bravado are clearly present, the storyteller holds center stage and it is within these narratives that Phashara wins over the listener.  The Storybook Adventure is required reading for the ears and a bonafide page-turner for hip-hop junkies worldwide.


visit Phashara's official website

visit Beatmonstas Entertainment

buy this album on iTunes

buy this album on amazon.com

Posted by macedonia at 2:47 PM EDT
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Thursday, 19 June 2008
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Strange Breaks & Mr. Thing
Now Playing: Kusun Ensemble on the Podsafe Music Network
Topic: 2008 reviews

Strange Breaks & Mr. Thing
Release Date:  February 11, 2008

Just when you think that the crate diggers of the universe have uncovered every lost gem on earth, up pops another compilation giving you more reasons to get your fingers dusty.  Respect must be given to Mr. Thing, DJ/producer and rare breaks enthusiast.  This is an ocean floor deep collection brimming with soul, funk, and jazz pearls from beginning to end.  Most of what's here will be unfamiliar to most listeners, even the covers of popular tunes.  Standouts include The Discoettes putting their humble spin on a Pointer Sisters classic ("Yes We Can Can") and Lloyd Charmers adding a lovers rock lean to Barry White's "I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little Bit More."  The self-titled cut from Soulful Illusion boasts harmonies reminiscent of The Temptations or The Miracles over a tough tempo and brass section.  Mr. Thing reaches into another crate and pulls out Original Tropicana Steel Band's "Calypso Rock," a funky instrumental with sweet steel drum solos.  You probably don't want to know what price some of these titles would fetch online, so consider this compilation a steal.  God bless Mr. Thing for sharing his knowledge of rarities with the masses.   -JRS

Posted by macedonia at 3:35 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 19 June 2008 3:41 PM EDT
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THA 4ORCE - Mind The Gap Anthems Version 2
Now Playing: Kusan Ensemble on the Podsafe Music Network
Topic: 2008 reviews

Mind The Gap Anthems Version 2
[BBE Records]
Release Date:  February 25, 2008

Remember the DJ from Da Ali G Show?  Antics with Sacha Baron Cohen aside, Steve Ellington a.k.a. Tha 4orce is the real deal, boasting a remix and production resume that others would kill to have.  Working with everyone from LL Cool J and Oleta Adams to Busta Rhymes and Amy Winehouse, his latest album on BBE exposes his prowess as an MC and producer.   While Ellington's skills behind the boards are superior to his lyrical abilities, he still gets an honorable mention for effort.  His best moments are when he's in DJ mode, as featured on "The Musician."  Rap snippets are cut, scratched, and arranged to interact with the dazzling piano of Tim Baxter.  "Drums Vs. Drums" is even more impressive as Tha 4orce goes head to head with drummer Dom Bannister, matching breaks from the crates with a live session on the skins.  For verbal fury, check for guest appearances from Poynt Blak on "Magnificent" and Phoebe on "Stay Strong & Feel Me."  Ellington's production is six-figure income solid and will have you hunching your shoulders for days on end.  -JRS

Posted by macedonia at 3:23 PM EDT
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