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Top 5 Hip-Hop Albums of February 2012: 1. Boldy James - Consignment

In a post-Guru hip-hop landscape there is a new monotone king and his name is Boldy James. After building a nice little buzz with 2011’s street-savvy double mixtape Trapper’s Alley: Pross and Cons, Detroit’s own Boldy James is back with his initial offering of 2012, the hotly anticipated Consignment:Favor For a Favor (The Redi-Rock Mixtape).

26 tracks deep, Consignment is a daunting listen given Boldy’s slow-flow and street-oriented subject matter. Well, I am more than pleased to say that he somehow manages to keep things interesting throughout, with the help of some excellent, grimy sample-based production choices of course. “Neighborhood Dope Man” is an early highlight where Boldy relives his drug dealing past over a smooth sample (“I went in with a bachelor’s in Mary Jane/Came out with a master’s in cocaine”). While a large portion of the tape features this type of throwback boom-bap and sample-heavy production, there are a number of left-field offerings. The first of which is “White Dresses (Blow).” Serving as a clever little narrative of the Johnny Depp film Blow, Boldy, accompanied by a catchy sample (I can’t identify it’s source) rhymes over a spaced-out heavy synth and drum beat. On “Jackie Brown,” Boldy uses his unexplainable charisma to make the tired “my gun is my girl” concept engaging. The soul sample doesn’t hurt either. On “Bank Jackin’” Boldy and guests Czar Rae & Rick Rude trade bars about a bank job. Again, not a very original concept but the sinister beat sounds like something straight out of the penultimate scene of big budget detective movie.

Cool Kid Chuck Inglish laces Boldy with what is easily the top beat on Consignment on “Snow Blowers.” The synth is absolutely ice cold; winter riding music at it’s finest right there. It’s not all grimy crime talk however. “Unfamiliar” with Bang Husky and Bo Skeet finds Boldy and friends detailing what it takes to survive in the cold streets of the D. On “Nothing Can Save Us” our MC weaves an engaging tale of his fucked up beginnings and pines for an escape for he and his peers. Consignment’s lone misstep occurs on “9 Yrs. Old.” An interpolation of Soulja Boy’s “Turn My Swag On” is completely out of place and disrupts the consistently smooth, grimy wave the tape had been riding up until that point.

An astute reader might take notice that there are very few direct lyrical quotes from this project in comparison to other reviews I’ve posted. The reason for this is simple. Boldy simply isn’t that type of MC. He doesn’t overwhelm the listener with overly-creative quotables or punclines, instead opting to relay wicked street tales with that innate charisma and easily identifiable voice of his. Consignment is without a doubt the definitive cold-hearted Midwest rap record of the year.

DL link: http://indy.livemixtapes.com/mixtapes/16369/boldy_james_consignment.html

Top 5 Hip-Hop Albums of February 2012: 2. Ka - Grief Pedigree

Brownsville, Brooklyn native Ka’s career can be described as a combination of false starts and promise in a late 90’s hip-hop landscape saturated with talented New York spitters. As a former member of not one but two obscure rap collectives (Natural Elements as well as Nightbreed, a group known for their minor hit “2 Roads Out the Ghetto”) Ka was never able to put himself in the right position for legitimate solo success. Is his second album Grief Pedigree enough to make the general hip-hop audience take notice?

My initial inclination is to say “probably not.” Ka possesses a definite Roc Marciano-like uninspired monotone rhyme style that doesn’t exactly make one’s ears prick up at attention. Luckily, Ka’s flow is butter smooth and his lyrical techniques are on full display over the creative yet minimalist production. He wastes no time going in over haunting organ stabs on the opening cut “Chamber,” rhyming (“Before I ever cooked a fish I was scale chef/I ground down a pound to the tail flesh/Strongback niggas bring it to ya frail chest/My block causes life to feel death”). On “No Downtime” Ka gets his ultra-lazy flow on over a smooth, wail of a sample and gorgeous strings. (“Pops used to run the land, was a hunted man/Showed me a .44 before Son of Sam/No high-fives, everything underhand”) raps Ka on the track. Actually, I “rap” isn’t quite the correct description of Ka’s immense performance on Grief Pedigree. His voice drips all over these records, sometimes blending into the stellar production in the best way possible. He truly becomes one with the beat whether he’s questioning the decisions he’s made throughout his life (“Decisions”) or trading gritty crime-tale bars with rhyme animal Roc Marciano (“Iron Age”).

In the same vein as Roc Marciano’s 2010 album Marcberg, Grief Pedigree is a wet dream on wax for fans of the minimalist, rhyme-heavy, grimy new era of NYC hip-hop. Ka pulls no punches, he makes no half-assed commercial grabs. Instead he does what he does best: slowly but surely weaves intricate tales of the street life with the help of some gutter production.

Purchase: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/grief-pedigree/id502612345

(Source: purpletapepedigree.com)