Hip Hop Round Up
Given the lightweight folly of his ‘comeback’ album, 2007’s Kingdom Come, the idea of Jay-Z adding a third chapter onto his already substantial Blueprint series promised much, but in reality, The Blueprint 3 (Universal) ●●● doesn’t deliver like the title might suggest. This is, frankly, all over the place, and riddled with contradictions – genius battle track ‘DOA: The Death of Autotune’ is rapidly followed with several tracks utilising the digital transmographying powers of, you guest it … Autotune – and for every time he throws down in style (‘What We Talkin’ About’, ‘DOA’, ‘Empire State of Mind’) he runs aground with some mawkish millionaire’s contemplation over some flaccid beats (‘A Star is Born’, ‘Young Forever’). When it works, The Blueprint 3 is big, bold, brash and beautiful but there’s too many points where Jigga just doesn’t sound hungry.
With similar ‘don’t call it a comeback’ sentiments, Wu Tang Clan heavy hitter Raekwon finally provides a sequel to his 1994 solo debut (arguably the finest of the myriad of solo Wu Tang albums over the years) with Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt II (Icewater) ●●●● , a slash and burn stomp through New York's seedy underbelly in the company of an unhinged storyteller par excellence. Unafraid to draw on those familiar/clichéd traits – kung fu movie mysticism, drug paraphernalia, grimy soul loops – and makes an album just about fit to hold up the lauded title.
Now here's a genuine comeback from Anti-Pop Consortium. Fluorescent Black (Big Dada) ●●●● is the quartet's first since 2002's Arrhythmia and has them reunited and energised, tossing out verbose missives dipped in liquid funk. They have lost none of their edge, stretching their wilfully obtuse lyrical canvas over an array of taut and tense electronic weirdness.
The final player in this quartet of mic abusers is Kid Cudi a rap star in 21st century terms, balancing high concept navel gazing somewhere aiming for somewhere between Stevie Wonder’s epic early 70s experiments and Kanye’s razor sharp pop nous. The Man on the Moon: The End of Day (Universal Motown) ●●●● is a real trip that drifts from spaced out lunar pronunciations to rapid fire rap pop tangles. Our hero purports to be some kind of hip hop mystic, but never lets us forget where to find a good hook to step to.