From Musikland on Moi Ave to a Sam Goody in Omaha his prowess is unmatched. I'm proud to welcome again my sticky fingered compadre with a bad music habit, Shop Liftah, here to give us the deal on a few new cds he umm...acquired... recently.
It's almost time for a Styles P record. Consistently spitting that hardcoreness, Lox and D-Block frontman Styles P embodies the grittyness and bleakness of the New York concrete jungle. PCutta and DNA compile together newer and older tracks in the run up to the release of Styles' second lp Time is Money. Close to the Concrete, Aint Buying What U Sellin' and 914 are stellar examples of that bangout music Styles P is beloved for. Fewer people get consistent attention on mixtapes. Every other week some DJ has a best of Styles compilation or something similar out. This joint could've been better but until he brings his new album or an all new music mixtape to the table, I guess we have to deal with the scraps.
Undoubtedly one of New York's finest, of all time, delivers his 6th piece independently and that means the greater masses of ears in need of something more quality get to miss out. I Am the Truth, is just that as Az makes his case. Sit Em Back with fellow Brooklynites MOP is a raucous stomp-em-out heater and Little Brother show up for a marvellous collaboration on Rise and Fall. If the Nas-Az project never sees the light of day then may we take this opportunity to lobby for a DJ Premier-Az opus, as the duo reunite with good results on the title track. Az doesn't play out of pocket. It's mainly introspective hood philosophy and street storytelling told with that flawless flow over soul themed beats. Get High and Doing That should have been replaced, although they are minor shortcomings. This album may go over the Snap and Hyphy set but Allah be praised that The Aziatic is back.
It must be a New Jersey thing. Like Jahiem, the one time Teddy Riley understudy and Jersey City native Shareefa delivers sung performances with a real tight street appeal on her debut album Point of No Return. Since her appearance on the second DTP compilation last year it was apparent that she was not afraid to write about something other than love, which R&B's worst ailment currently, and sing with a realness that is hard to ignore. The Intro starts with a rock bottom moment, as she's sent to prision. And then Rodney Jerkins helps her get closure from a bad relationship on Cry No More. Another key ingredient to this piece is gogo maestro turned R&B wunderkid, Rich Harrison, who matches her street sensibility with soundscapes that recall the boom-bap driven soul of the mid 90's. No One Said lifts a sample popularized by Biggie Smalls on his first album, How Good Love Feels sounds like something Mary J. Blige would have done for her second album. Phony touches upon a betrayal by a girlfriend, not over a man, but some undisclosed situation that actually saw Shareefa behind bars for a stint. The tail end of the album slows down. DTP compatriot Bobby Valentino drops in for a bump-n-grind session on Hey Babe, Eye Wonder is a cheating-with-him episode, while Fever explores a crush. She may have only moved 30k on her first week but this is easily one of the finer all-around R&B performances of 2006.
Round Two is always a watershed phase, and for the New Millenium Nate Dogg his second album is probably his best chance to solidify his Konvict Music movement. From the jump Shakedown is that gangsta crooning that Akon is making his own. Styles P returns for Blown Away, another street bandit two step anthem. Never Took the Time, Dont Matter and I Can't Wait offer a different look as Akon does the love song thing. Akon still shines with the street conscious music, on Gringo, he's a drug dealer making a pitch, and on Tired of Running he's a street hustler done with ducking the Law. Then there's Mama Africa, a reggae joint in tribute to his roots. Overall, Konvicted stays true to what Akon does well, with a few radio songs (Smack That and I Wanna Love You) thrown in to cement the traffic to the music store.
Another year another album. Jim Jones is definitely a prime example of how the constant grind of keeping your name out in the street whether it's albums back to back, umpteen mixtapes, being on the red carpet at the VMA's and still doing club appearances in the roughest locales in the East Coast can do to boost your profile. Stylistically, what do you expect. More thuglife, hustler tales, and floss bossman rants from Jones and Dipset Byrdgang expressed over slicked out synths and drums. Emotionless, Pin the Tail and Weatherman are notables although they all have guests on them. More people have Jim Jones' name in their heads this year than last and there is a feeling in the northeast that there is a need for their own new star instead of all the mainstays or out of town boys and Jones is well placed to feed off that. Judging by his current buzz off the runaway hit We Fly High, this will be one of the hood soundtracks of choice for many this winter.