Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sean One - Full of It

Location: Fredericton, NB
Label: Dead Beats

Admittedly I have a track of my own, 'Invisible,' included on this Sean One album, but I tried to approach the album as unbiased as possible.

Sean is a veteran in the New Brunswick rap scene, first emerging as part of the Vet Cru in the late nineties. 'Full of It' showcases the progression of his beatmaking skills, placing him near the top of the crab bucket. It also shows the strong ties he's created with elite underground rap artists on both coasts.

Beatwise, standouts include Vancouver's The Dirty Crew on 'Big Grizlee'; the collabo with slick-tongued Digby/Fredericton emcee Mick D on 'Cut Us Loose,' and the upbeat funktified energy of the two pure instrumental tracks: 'Play Part III' and 'Gangstah Boogie Outro.'

My favourites are two of the more serious tracks, featuring slower and equally well pieced beats. Saint John's Above discusses the materialism that can pollute the mind of an insecure adolescent on 'Christie'. While Fredericton's Monark strikes strong with a tale of a young woman turning tricks on 'Anything for the Dollar,' who Monark encourages to get right so her seeds have a chance.

Sean's collaboration with Bonshah on 'Sign of the Times' remains one of my favourite tracks from DJ Loc Dog's infamous 40s & 9s Mixtapes. And on 'College Radio,' one can't help but wonder if Josh Martinez is lamenting over the lack of mainstream funding support (e.g. VideoFACT) for campus chart topping artists like himself as he sings "College radio killed the video star."

Unfortunately I found the drawl from Cee!!!!! on 'Tittie Balls' hard to stick through for nearly 5 minutes, and often skipped the track.

Overall, this is the most solid release to date from Sean One and a nice package of emcee talent from NB, Halifax and Vancouver.

Monday, May 14, 2007

D.O. - Northstarr

Location: Toronto, ON

'Northstarr' is a real nice debut album from the son of a preacher man, D.O. You might know him for his Stay Driven motivation speaking, and this uplifting mindset creeps into many of his tracks particulary the hits 'Defy the Odds' & 'Young Brother.'

The real strength of this album lies in the well crafty choruses of featured artists. Most impressive is his Art of Fresh beatmaking partner, Slakah the Beatchild on 'No Matter What,' 'End of the Day' and the posse cut 'Just Forfeit', which features Arabesque & G Stokes.

While tracks like 'Art of Fresh' & 'Bring It' are upbeat, funky, fresh and in your face party starters. While 'By My Side (Signs)' shows D.O.'s spiritual side.

Admittedly it took me a minute to adapt to D.O.'s vocal drawl, which my friend Nicole compared to sounding like "Snoop Dogg," but in the end it works. Overall this is a diverse album, where D.O. shows his ability to find the right beat to craft each song's message.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Chadio & Aalo Guha - Underestimated Raindrops

Location: Vancouver, BC

This CD appeared unexpectedly in my mailbox. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the beats, catering to the underground with a nice organic sound highlighed by the intro 'Gone Fishing.'

The flow of Chadio & Aalo is well refined, quick and impressive, especially on tracks like 'Pancakes,' but unfortunately that often comes at the expensive of the message. The content seems more artsy than my liking, as I often found myself struggling to figure out what it was they were trying to say with their raps, but that could due to their rapid-fire style of delivery.

'Solitude Song' is probably my favorite track as it incorporates a nice sample into the chorus. And the final track 'End of the Beginning' is a seemingly nice ode to The Doors.

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