Lyrical Workout by Bumpy Knuckles & Statik Selektah
Bumpy Knuckles and Statik Selektah’s recent collaboration Lyrical Workout is not so much a lesson in rhyming, but rather a verbal assault on rappers fakin’ the funk. Over grimey horns and drums, Freddie Foxx makes it abundantly clear on “Animalistic” that said suspect acts can catch the end of his tool on the wrong day. Similar sentiment can be heard throughout the album, such as the straight-forward record “Don’t Do Fake” or the malicious-sounding “Beats On’em.” Though previous projects with Saigon and Termanology have offered up a better selection of beats, Statik appropriately provides Bumpy with over a dozen cuts like “Ambition” and “Pen Game” that bang to the core. Lyrical Workout may not display the creative range that Bumpy Knuckles and Statik Selektah have proven in the past, however, it does deliver with the bare essentials of aggressive rhymes and east coast boom bap. If you’re feeling nostalgic, put this on for a trip down memory lane.
Before I Awoke by Co$$
Leimart Park has been the stomping grounds for a multitude of emcees that call the ‘City of Angels’ home, with Co$$ being the latest act that has made the transition from weekly ciphers to the recording studio. In truth, Before I Awoke isn’t necessarily his debut for some listeners; however, it’s arguably the most potent project that celebrates life on the Westside since Fashawn’s Boy Meets World. Teaming up with Exile on “Pot Ash,” the jazzy, laid back vibes allow Co$$ to open up on his trials of life, while “Khakis and Taylors” revels in the street facet. Though “Love Is” discusses the affections for a significant other, it could also very well be interpreted as a subtle ode to Los Angeles. Given the time it took for Co$$ to release Before I Awoke, it’s clear he didn’t want to shorten the length of material available. However, this decision allows a few blunders to seep through the cracks, such as the choppy production on “10-4” or “Burn It Down,” the latter track more suitable for a Nipsey Hussle. Still, with a gracious mix of thought-provoking records and light-hearted cuts alike, Before I Awoke comes right in time for the summer months ahead. Take note of the album title; don’t sleep on Co$$.
King Kong by Gorilla Zoe
On Gorilla Zoe’s third album King Kong, it’s difficult to determine what exactly he is trying to achieve. Few and far between are fitting records like the album-opening title track or “Nasty,” where Zoe verbally brandishes southern convictions over thumping drums. Instead, King Kong shuffles through various songs that sound like they were inadequately manufactured for the club, such as the electro-house influenced “Twisted” and “Main Thing.” Trading in his street demeanor here for glow sticks and stunner shades, Zoe awkwardly bounces around these tunes as if he’s Flo Rida with a hoarse voice. In other instances, Zoe’s reliance on Auto-Tune detracts from otherwise respectable performances like “Crazy” and “I’m Not Perfect.” In the process, Zoe loses his identity throughout King Kong, an issue that seems indefensible given his tenure within the rap scene. With newer artists discovering ways to succeed in this musical climate, Gorilla Zoe may need to revise his game plan before his status becomes endangered.
The Maticulous EP by Maticulous
Even at a paltry eight tracks, Maticulous’ informal introduction The Maticulous EP exemplifies what can be created with the right influences and likewise features on hand. Meddling within the east coast underground scene for the last few years, the New York by-way-of Pittsburgh beat maker enlists the likes of Sene, R.A. The Rugged Man and the Brown Bag Allstars to showcase his capabilities through Pro Tools and a drum machine. From the bumping posse cut “The Hulk” to the pensive grooves found on “The Raw,” Maticulous lives up to his moniker with production that captures a refreshing essence of Hip Hop in 2011 without the bells and whistles. Peep “Once Invented,” where a chopped-up sample hook respectfully draws parallels to one of Maticulous’ main inspirations. If unable to figure who that is, then unfortunately this diamond in the rough project is not for you.