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Incoming: Robyn, Wale, Roni Size & more

(…”Come For The Shrimp, Stay For The…” — Hooters, Church St. & 2nd Ave., Nashville, TN)

One of the most enjoyable underground collectives that has steadily developed in the Twin Cities over the past couple of years has been the Background Noise Crew. Following such releases as their last group album, Everybody Does This Vol. 1, or subsequent solo records from various members comes the debut album from Status Reign entitled Brutally Honest. The easy comparisons are there—white rapper from the TC who casually sounds like Atmosphere‘s Slug at times—but that doesn’t change the fact that the music he’s making is solid. While the full-length release is still in production, the first mastered single has been dropped in the form of “Tonight,” which combines Reign’s bubbling flow with a sly club bounce and an infectious chorus. Here’s hoping it’s a sign of things to come.

MP3 Status Reign “Tonight”

(“…Division…” — 1st Ave., Nashville, TN)

As each year passes so too does Snoop Dogg‘s ability to put out music worthy of his legend. Sure, his street-cred takes a bit of a hit with every guest spot on The View or stroll through Candyland with Katy Perry, but there’s always been something that reminds us of what’s still possible for the aging icon: this year that something might “U Should Know Better.” While Snoop doesn’t honestly contribute a whole lot here, his presence cast against the high-energy “Cobrastyle”-like beat and Robyn‘s confrontational lyrics goes a long way in suggesting that the old man still has something thoroughly entertaining left in his tank. (source: Some Kind of Awesome)

MP3 Robyn feat. Snoop Dogg “U Should Know Better”

(“…Nine Years Old…” Capitol Blvd. & Church St., Nashville, TN)

Just a little over a minute into this remix of Lauren Pritchard‘s “Painkillers,” the idea clicks: Where exactly has Roni Size been? The truth is, despite this being the first remix he’s tackled in about three years, the man never disappeared, releasing new music at a break-neck speed including 2008′s New Forms² in which he remade the bulk of his amazing 1997 New Forms record, while tossing in a few new tracks for good measure. Just to top things off “Painkillers” adds a verse from Talib Kweli—give it whatever name you like, this is sort of thing that made drum and bass what it was at its peak. I think it’s time to dust off some Goldie.

MP3 Lauren Pritchard feat. Talib Kweli “Painkillers (Roni Size remix)”

(“…Home Of The Second Best Running Back In The NFL…” — LP Field, Nashville, TN)

In discussing Wale‘s new mixtape More About Nothing, Consequence of Sound‘s Adam Kivel says “It’s just about as good as the first Seinfeld mixtape,” while Rizoh reflects how the release pictures Wale as “tougher, wiser, more focused than he’s been in a while,” but I think The Fader‘s Sam Hockley-Smith says it best with this mouthful,

The great secret is that somewhere along the line Wale realized that a whole lot of rap is just a whole lot of nothing said in an awesome way, which is the case on more than a few songs (“The Guilty Pleasure”) on this mixtape, which (wisely) taps into the theme that gave Wale something concrete/not actually concrete at all to work with. We just confused ourselves.

SHS touches on an interesting point here… though I have to admit that I might be a little confused too. I’ve listened to The Mixtape About Nothing and appreciate it, and the same goes for Attention Deficit, but neither struck me as collections that lived up to what people were saying about Wale. Kyle “Guante” Myhre summed it up nicely in his review of TMAN, “With great talent comes an even greater burden—’rapping really well’ is one thing; ‘making great, memorable music’ is an altogether different challenge.” If you ask me which songs I remember most from the MC, they’d be “Nike Boots” and his “Chillin’” collaboration with Lady Gaga; the latter of which, while I enjoy it, still makes more than a few people cringe. The point is, the vast majority of Wale’s music has been, at least for me, fairly forgettable despite his highly touted abilities.

As a whole, the mixtape is better than his full-length debut, but it suffers because of the same symptom which gives the mix its highest moments: Wale’s inconsistency. There is an endless supply of smart bars, and the majority of the songs have powerful beats, but with the MC delivering “a whole lot of nothing said in an awesome way” he also produces his fair share of mediocre tracks. I can’t disagree with any of the voices touting More About Nothing‘s strength, but considering the weight of the mixtape’s 21 tracks, the record has a tendency of drowning itself out: its highs and lows tend to cancel each other out. What’s left is another release that’s good—at points great—with a number of spurts of lyrical magic, but ultimately something that is largely unmemorable, no matter how many charming pop-culture references it might include.

MP3 Wale “The Soup”

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