Monday, June 22, 2009

rip a beat to pieces

Two hugely anticipated mixtapes dropped over the weekend, the first being Wale's "Back to the Feature".
This thing has been pushed back a few times, and the finished form is a pretty impressive product, but not really because of Wale.
Often times it is grating when a bevy of guest spots are put on an album, but the choice to give bars up on each track does not serve Wale well. I will still check for the D.C. spitter since "Mixtape About Nothing" was such an ambitious and rewarding outing, but the rapper consistently gets outshined on his latest.
Perhaps he is saving some real heat rock for his debut, but not much here is outstanding wordplay. Maybe that is why he consistently speaks at the end and beginning of tracks about how he is a "different" rapper.
According to Wale, he is "different" because he is rapping over beats that are not inherently hip-hop, and no one else is doing that right now. Well, the other rapper who dropped an anticipated mixtape this weekend is in fact doing that, and in much more interesting ways.

"B.o.B. vs. Bobby Ray", B.o.B.'s most recent work, is his rapping ego (B.o.B.) struggling against his singing/producing/songwriting personality (Bobby Ray).
When the videos started popping up on youtube with the rapper saying he was straying from hip-hop, I immediately got worried. This type of side-step usually never ends well.
Then there was video of him playing guitar (immediately cringeworthy Wayne guitar plucks popped into my brain) and sitting at a piano. But he seems to have his act together.
The latter half of the mixtape is all produced by the man himself and finds the artist doing more singing than rapping, and he can actually sing. A rarity in hip-hop these days.
The production skills range from near electro-pop to updated reggae grooves to catchy clap-along pop work.
The mixtape's first half finds the rapper doing the same as Wale, grabbing a bunch of dudes to jump on tracks with him, but he actually holds his own, often outshining his guests.
B.o.B. is a terribly ambitious guy, and so far the fruits of those ambitions are pretty sweet.

Links jacked from TSS


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