Posts Tagged ‘4Eva N a Day’

The distinction between albums, LPs, EPs, and mixtapes was at it’s cloudiest point to date in 2012, and there is relatively no chance that any of those distinctions crystallize into something meaningful ever again.  The reality is that these days most rappers put together “projects,” and those projects either get released for free or they get released for a fee.  Among the projects that get released for free are those where a rapper raps over other people’s instrumentals or samples he or she has no intention of trying to clear.  There are also projects labeled as mixtapes or given away for free, that have entirely original production that get released for free and some of those projects ended up on Hardwood Blacktop’s Best 15 Albums of 2012 list.  To be honest, I’m not overly concerned with those distinctions anymore other than the fact that those of us who like to write about rap like to have a way to differentiate between certain types of releases for the purpose of end of the year lists and things like that.  So here are my picks for best mixtapes of 2012, by my own current loosely defined understanding of that term, which does not necessarily take into account whether a rapper deemed something a mixtape or not (but it might).  In general these projects are not of nearly as high quality as the top albums of 2012, otherwise they would’ve made that list, as you can see from that list there are a couple of “albums” that made the cut that most would classify as mixtapes (Sunday School, ParaphernaliaGod of Black EP, MMM Season).  If you’re keeping score at home, those projects would have been at the top of this list.

Meek Mill featuring Big Sean – “Burn”

1. Meek Mill – Dreamchasers 2 – Download

Sometimes a rapper’s (Jadakiss, Fabolous, and Joe Budden just to name a few) game just translates a little bit better to the mixtape circuit than it does to album making.  Whether that has to do with them being better situated to making “street singles” than it does to them making tracks for the club or radio, or whether it has to do with the lack of record label oversight in the mixtape process, or whether the DJs they work with in the mixtape process are actually better A&R’s than their record label A&R’s, the end result is a consistently better free product vs. fee product. It’s too early to say that Meek Mill will always fall into that category as his major label debut Dreams & Nightmares certainly showed promise and contained some great individual songs (“Dreams & Nightmares (Intro)” and “Traumatized”).  There is no doubt though that in 2012, Meek dropped another mixtape (he’s done this a few times before) that was better than a vast majority of the albums that came out in the same year.  Perhaps the most interesting part of Meek as a mixtape artist is that he’s not just someone who drops a flurry of battle-ready sixteens over a bunch of other people’s instrumentals. In fact, some of his best radio singles have been the result of his mixtape work over the last couple of years, hits like last year’s “House Party,” “Tupac Back” and “I’m A Boss” and this year’s “Burn,” “Amen,” and “Flexing” all came from his mixtapes or from the MMG compilations.  By contrast  only  from the first MMG compilation (a mixtape-like project) has really garnered the same buzz.  And while his label has pushed the hell out of “Young and Gettin’ It,” there’s just no way that’s a better direction for Meek than any of the aforementioned tracks.  Dreamchasers 2 was Meek’s most complete offering to date, bringing tracks suitable to almost every type of rap listener and packing plenty of that V-12 energy we’ve come to expect from Philly’s brightest star. While it does drag on a bit as songs begin to run together a little bit after the first nine or ten tracks on the mixtape, there may not have been a better example of hungry street-oriented rapping in 2012.

Choice Cuts: “Burn,” “Amen,” “Ready Or Not,” “A1 Everything

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There will seemingly always be a market for legitimate Country Rap Tunes, but as that musical methodology has fallen further and further from vogue – as the rap production selected by southern artists has been influenced by the glossiness of the DJ Khaleds, Rick Rosses, and Young Jeezies of the world – soulful dirty south sample based beats have become harder and harder to find.  It hasn’t helped that court decisions and technology continue to eat away the profitability, and delay the timeliness with legal paperwork, of sample-heavy records.  That said, it’s important to acknowledge that the distance from the heyday of Organized Noize, Pimp C, DJ Paul & Juicy J, N.O. Joe, Mr. DJ, and Mike Dean leaves a gaping void in rap’s sonic landscape that’s craving to be filled.  Equally rare in today’s rap world are lyricists who are more concerned with honesty than image.  While the merits of honesty in art can be debated against the value of fiction, fantasy, exploration, innovation, and imagery, there is no doubt that it is refreshing to have at least a subsection of artists in any field who speak from their own authentic point of view.  Enter Big K.R.I.T., Mississippi producer and rapper, signed to Def Jam, and responsible for the critically acclaimed K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, R4: The Prequel, and Return of 4Eva along with several other mixtapes and a multitude of guest production and features.  Unlike some of the other artists highlighted in the Best of the 1st Quarter album review series, K.R.I.T. seemingly is on eve of doing very big things on a mainstream level with a deal from Def Jam, and the co-sign of XXL, but fortunately he hasn’t let go of his desire to keep giving the fans what they need, while we wait for his major label debut, Live From the Underground to hit shelves.

Big K.R.I.T.’s latest, 4Eva N a Day, is an album based on the simple concept of long day, twenty one waking hours to be exact, with songs based on the moods or themes of certain times of day and night throughout the album.  Certainly there is nothing particularly groundbreaking about the concept, but it’s solidly realized and for a free album, it’s hard to complain about the depth of an album’s conceptual framework, especially when the music is overwhelmingly solid throughout and the product is cohesively developed.

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