Glaciers of Ice – September Edition

My new column for Lost at Sea is up now. Click the link or read below.

Better late than never… September edition of Glaciers of Ice, here we go:

Bay Area native D-Lo certainly seems to be having a good time on his new album, The Tonite Show (Clear Label). From the opening talk show strains on, D-Lo’s comical vocal inflections and partner DJ Fresh’s space-age gangster beats take center stage, drawing comparisons with the likes of E-40 and Mistah F.A.B. (who appears on the track “18”). But D-Lo proves his worth here, and even outshines his guests, on tracks like the Eric B and Rakim-sampling “Pump Up the Volume” or the drawling “Mobbin’.”

Gnawledge Doaba (Gnawledge Records) is the new album from producer Canyon Cody, the result of a Fullbright scholarship that sent him and compatriot Gnotes to Granada, Spain for a year. While there, the two fully immersed themselves in Arabic and Flamenco music, absorbing the culture and lifestyle and churning out beats and rhythms in their studio with a bunch of Spanish musicians. While culturally rich and musically diverse, the album does tend to lean a bit towards adult contemporary downtempo in its style. Some may cry foul at disparaging a project such as this, given its high-minded pedigree. But concept aside, the music sometimes fails to pack a punch.

The sampler for Jahdan Blakkamoore’s new album, Buzzrock Warrior (Gold Dust), better be a good representation of the full-length, damn it (I hate samplers!!!!). Let’s assume it is, and if so, let’s tentatively label it a good album. Matt Shadetek and DJ/Rupture handle the electro-Caribbean production, among several others, against which Jahdan’s Jamaican patois rapping style sounds lively and nice. This is definitely not straight hip-hop; this is dancehall, dub, r’n’b, and techno, and more. Sure, there’s a little Autotune involved, but songs like the softly crooned “Come With Me” forgive clichéd little tricks like that.

LA’s Breakestra have returned with a new album on Strut Records, Dusk ‘Til Dawn. This mixture of soul, funk, and jazz is a tribute to DJ Dusk, an LA fixture in the hip-hop scene who tragically lost his life in a road accident in 2007. “Music Man” Miles Tackett is the mastermind here, along with a slew of musicians from various other bands, including Plantlife and Dakah. This is not neo-soul or bass-heavy Soulquarians-style funk. This is early James Brown, Stax Records, funky drummer, big band dance music. Dig it.

Seattle MC D.Black releases his new album this month, Ali’Yah (Sportn’ Life/MYX Music). The album’s title, as explained in the CD insert, is a Hebrew word meaning “immigration to Israel” or “the honor of being called upon to read from the Torah.” Apparently, D.Black is sort of an African American Jew – according to his press release, he is a “firm believer in the Messianic Hebrew roots of Christianity and currently runs his own ministry.” As dogmatic as that may sound, he has managed to make a lively, banging album, full of crisp, funky beats over which he raps in a Talib Kweli-like rasp. NW hip-hop scores again.

Way to ruin the classics, Suburban Noize. Blast From tha Past is a new compilation from the geniuses who brought you Kottonmouth Kingz and Big B, among others. Here, we find the aforementioned KK covering the Beastie Boys’ “Paul Revere,” DGAF covering Tupac and Snoop’s “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted,” and a bunch of other guys covering NWA’s “Fuck Tha Police.” All the participants actually keep it pretty close to the originals, adding that signature rap-rock roughness that you either love or you hate. This is probably the best release I’ve heard from Suburban Noize, but I won’t be adding it to my iPod.

As of this writing, I’m giving the much anticipated new Raekwon album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Part II (Ice H2O Records), a first listen. Poppa Wu shows up on the first track, shades of the most annoying parts of Wu-Tang Forever. That is quickly dispelled when “House of Flying Daggers” begins, featuring Deck, Ghost, and Meth. But I can already tell this isn’t gonna be close to the original Cuban Linx. Maybe technology has advanced too much, maybe the RZA needs to be a part of these projects more, maybe less… Whatever the reason, I’m gonna bitch about the days of yore. But let’s not despair. This album is eons better than anything Rae has been involved in over the past few years, and “Sonny’s Missing” matches the best Ghost crime narrative. “New Wu” isn’t even that new anymore, after being leaked a few months ago, but it still sounds better than anything on 8 Diagrams. I mean, this actually sounds like something off of a solo album circa ’95. And Ghost is all over the album, another good sign. Sure, Jadakiss talks about how the economy is down on “Broken Safety,” but Ghost just screamed something about bringing the troops home from Iraq on “Cold Outside,” and it really made sense.

That’s all for now, so until next month… e-mail with thoughts and insults, and send me yer shit! I’ll listen to it. Glaciers is ghost like Casper.

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