Every time I unwrap extract a new record, I’m listening for evidence that will help convince the plethora of Chicken Littles that hip-hop is not only alive and well, but in the midst of an online Renaissance   So far this year, it’s been an arduous task, to say the least.  It seems that time and time again, I’m reporting back to you with less-than-rousing responses, all the while hoping that something will drop in the world of hip-hop that inspires me to share with you.  Sure, there have been a handful of buzz-worthy singles and some intriguing news stories leaked over the past months, but with few exceptions, 2013 has been marred with disappointing projects both in retail and on the mixtape circuit.  This week?  More of the same, really.  So instead of going all-in on anything in particular, Your Humble Narrator is once again relying on the formula that’s gotten him through so many tough Tuesday’s: Quick, condensed reactions to all of the new projects that have gotten burn since last Tuesday.


ANTHM - Handful of Dust

Highlights: “Debbie”, “Self Esteem”

I’m admittedly a little late on this one; though I’ve been aware of Handful of Dust’s existence for a couple of weeks now, I wrongly wrote it off as too backpacky.  And while it is certainly falls on the nostalgic side of things, it was a mistake to assume that ANTHM was another generic Internet emcee.  In fact, the Wall Street-trader-turned-rapper’s intelligent lyricism is arguably the highlight of the album. Enigmatic California rapper/producer Blu - under the alias GODleeBarnes - handles the whole record behind the boards and has evidently made huge strides with his beat-making since we last heard from him.  Handful of Dust is no Below the Heavens, but it might just be the best project Blu has been involved with since.  As for ANTHM, I’ll be keeping my eye on him to see what he has planned to separate himself from other youngbloods cut from a similar cloth.  The only problem with the record?  It’s barely 22 minutes in length. We deserve more!

Verdict:  Backpacker bliss.  Certainly worth the bandwidth, if not a few bucks.  


Gucci Mane - Trap Back 2

Highlights: “That Pack”, “White Man”

I’m not sure whether it’s coincidence or Radric is smarter that I give him credit for, but no one has capitalized on the first-quarter drought more than Gucci.  Counting EastAtlantaMemphis - a collaboration with Bluff City upstart Young Dolph that was also released last week -  Trap Back 2 is La Flare’s fourth official mixtape of 2013.  While the tapes continue to do big numbers over at DatPiff, it may be a case of over-saturation at this point. The bass-heavy bangers and absurd, braggadocio quotables remain as expected, but this newest tape isn’t up to standard and instead seems to be filled with throwaways from previous efforts.  No other rapper has used the mixtape game to his advantage quite like Gucci, but Trap God 2 is the type of forgettable material that only hardcore fans could appreciate and provides fodder for those who argue that the industry is in a state of emergency.

Verdict:  If you’re looking for a quick way to kill brain cells, give it a chance.  Otherwise, skip it.          


YelaWolf - Trunk Muzik Returns

Highlights:  “Gangster”, “Rhyme Room” 

White rapper bias alert!  As hard as I’ve tried to like YelaWolf, he’s yet another victim of my deep-seeded inability to enjoy Caucasian cadences (with the notable exception of The Albanian Assassin).  Radioactive was absolutely terrible at best, and while his previous mixtapes contained some memorable joints, I never quite understood the hype that had labels banging on his door to sign a contract.  On Trunk Muzik Returns, Catfish Billy attempts to make amends for disappointing his fanbase with studio debut, even going as far as to call Radioactive “lame” on “Rhyme Room”.  Unfortunately for Yela, so is his comeback attempt.  The production on the tape isn’t bad, but there really isn’t anything memorable either.  As for Yela himself?  His style already seems dated and it sounds like he’s trying way too hard to fit into an increasingly crowded scene of rappers on the fringe of mainstream acceptance.  

Verdict:  It really seems like Yela missed his opportunity to transition to the upper echelon of the genre by fucking up on Radioactive.  Frankly, I’m not convinced he will ever recover. Skip it.


Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience

Highlights: “Suit & Tie”, “Spaceship Coupe”

I know what you’re thinking:  What the hell does a Justin Timberlake record have to do with hip-hop?  Not much, really.  But in desperation for new music, I got my hands on an Internet leak advanced copy of The 20/20 Experience and must admit that it has some surprising appeal.  JT has come a long way from his days with the Mickey Mouse Club, and while the record certainly retains it’s ultra-pop sensibilities, there is a certain maturity to Timberlake’s approach that allows The 20/20 Experience to be enjoyed nearly guilt-free.  It should also be mentioned that aside from a single verse from Hov on the lead single, Timberlake handles microphone duties by his lonesome and still manages to keep the finished product highly engaging.  Perhaps most importantly, the record proves that Timbaland, who handles production for the entire project, is still a beast behind the boards.  While JT has made great leaps with his songwriting, it’s Timbo’s unmatched versatility that gives The 20/20 Experience significantly more credibility than the average pure pop record.

Verdict:  While I don’t by any means expect to bump this one on a regular basis, I’m glad I gave it a chance. Don’t hate; appreciate.


While I hope that I’ve provided your deck iTunes playlist with a minor upgrade, that shouldn’t keep you away from Sappho Taipei this Saturday night where The Blast’s very own LEO37 presents his third installment of the Do You Want More?!? live series.  Back with a stacked line-up of special guests, Leo and his band are set to deliver an energetic performance of hybrid hip-hop that you won’t soon forget. The answer is yes, we want more.  And Saturday night, we get it.  Until then, it’s The Blast, ya’ll. 

- Noakes

Reblogging for a couple reasons. First, I’m hoping more people will follow blast on tumblr and as a result we get more posts. Although I don’t always agree with every review, I appreciate the perspective and the fact that blast puts music on my radar that I might not otherwise consider.

Second, the Yelawolf review got me thinking about something I’ve wanted to say for a while about white rappers, which I’ll post in a minute.

  1. purpleheartsaint said: Totally wrong on your Yelawolf verdict. This mixtape is redemption for Radioactive.
  2. whatiremembered reblogged this from theblast-blog and added:
    Reblogging for a couple reasons. First, I’m hoping more people will follow blast on tumblr and as a result we get more...
  3. originalbrees said: Yelawolf Nice y’All sleep and y’all blog will never pop.. god bless and recognize real music..
  4. theblast-blog posted this