Archive for the ‘Things From The Week’ Category

Before last week was derailed by the leak of Cancer 4 Cure, I was really questioning what I was going to write about during the last full week of April.  I was contemplating another NBA piece, but if the analytics on this website have taught me anything it’s that people don’t really give two shits about what I think about the blazers or sixers, which doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to stop writing about them, but it’s not the primary focus of my energy on here for the time being.  Fortunately, the end of the week brought some nice pieces of music to talk about a bit.

 Z-Man & G-Pek returned from the ether this week to drop In Case You Forgot, a follow up to their impressive 2005 album, Don’t Forget to Brag.  Z-Man is of course most known for the 2004 Bay Area underground classic Dope or Dog Food, but he did return a couple years ago to drop the enjoyable free EP Show Up, Shut Up, and Rap.  The new album is $7 bucks on bandcamp and well worth the funds if you occasionally (or frequently) enjoy a well constructed album with good beats and fun(ny) storytelling.  As always, the major selling point for me of putting an album on bandcamp is that you can listen to it in its entirety without downloading it.  If you’ve been sleeping on Z-Man entirely, I recommend streaming the tracks from In Case You Forgot, and picking up the free EP from 2010 to see what you think, and then you can go from there.  But all that’s out there from him is worth purchasing so support if you can.  It’s more important than ever in an era where more talented artists than ever are finding it financially imprudent just to make music.  If it was a little longer I would’ve definitely considered giving this album the full album review treatment, but in the spirit of quality versus quantity (which is pretty much my motto these days – no YOLO) it’s deserving of some good critical analysis and I hope it gets some out there.  Definitely one of those albums that makes for a nice Sunday afternoon listen or amusing conversation piece.

“Exist to Remain” – I Self Devine


 “Things From The Week” will be an ongoing column here to discuss random bits of noteworthy music during the week.  This is not intended to be all-encompassing, just things that hit the radar over here, so don’t feel disrespected if you don’t make the cut.  Also this will not replace the more in-depth featured album reviews, which will be reserved for albums receiving Hardwood Blacktop’s full stamp of approval.

This week was a bit slow for music, at least if you listen to it in the long-form (whole albums and mixtapes, not individual song leaks), as I’ve re-dedicated myself to recently.  There were a few projects worth checking out, but nothing mindblowing or eyepopping this week.

Hardwood Blacktop’s top recommendation of the week is Fiend‘s (International Jones) new mixtape with Cookin’ Soul, entitled Iron Chef.  Fans of the International Jones reincarnation of Fiend will undoubtedly enjoy this, as will any fans of the whole Jet Life crew.  If there are drawbacks to the mixtape, it’s the lack of material here (7 tracks and a pointless bookending intro and outro courtesy of Cookin’ Soul), and the fact that Fiend’s laidback bass vocal tone (admittedly also one of his biggest draws), can be a bit lulling over the course of an entire release, even one as short as Iron Chef.  Cookin’ Soul provide their staple soulful and funky headnodders, but the mixtape is a bit sleepy in moments, such as “Mirror” for example.  Guests like fellow Jet Lifers (and perhaps career savior?) Curren$y, Trademark Skydiver, and CornerBoy P and DPGs Daz & Kurupt provide some much needed breaks from the vocal monotony.  The whole travel the world via weed and smoke weed while we travel the whole world imagery also seems to have run it’s course over the past four years or so, but that doesn’t harm the immediate impact of solid music, although it may cost the release a few points in the replayability column and tilts the needle a bit from fresh toward stale. All things considered, this is quality rap music over solid production and the mixtape will be enjoyable for fans of the Jet Life aesthetic which based on the proliferation of their style across today’s music industry are many in number.  To fans of Fiend specifically, who may have been lost amidst the slew of releases he put out last year, with varying results, this is the best he’s released since last January’s Tennis Shoes & Tuxedos.

Choice Cut: