Being in an underground rap group is a b****. Being in an underground rap group, who's name causes them to be commonly mistaken for a b****, is a Tanya Morgan--the trio, because of their stage name, are constantly mistook for a female R&B singer. Cincinnati native MC/Producer, Von Pea, and Brooklyn native MCs, Donwill and Ilyas, who formerly comprised the hip-hop duo Illwill, are relative unknowns in the eyes of the general music listening populous. Brooklynati, the group's second album is, more than anything, a revivalist effort; a return to a time where hip-hop exuded a strong sense of place, and a place where music meant belonging to something, or somewhere, or someone. Now we're on our way.
The album's opener wastes no time transporting you--"to a place [you've] seen only in [your] dreams." The first track, in its entirety, is a synth-accented ride through the countryside, showcasing instrumentals with enough twang to be an appropriate addition to any "Best Country Music Moments in Hip-Hop" compilation, if such a thing exists. The destination is Brooklynati; a conceptual location which one might find if they took a trip back to hip-hop's golden age, and dreamed up a new generation's equivalent, albeit a derivative. On the surface, it's a simple play on words, taking its name from the cities the three MCs respectively hail from. Underneath the surface, it's an album's worth of stories, and Von Pea, Ilyas and Donwill tell them well.
This is post-Golden Age rap that doesn't stare dreamy-eyed into the past. Rather, this is hip-hop with a schoolgirl crush on De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, and it never lets its infatuation escape past diary margins. Production is handled largely by Brickbeats and Von Pea. The album's sound, at its best, feels consistent and controlled. No beat attempts to overpower the others, but rather provides a unified backdrop for the MCs Tanya Morgan. Keeping that in mind, the first four tracks are definite standouts, in a way that wouldn't be out of place to include in an EP/demo properly encompassing the group's "core sound". "Alleye Need" is peppered with flecks of trumpet accompaniment to the basic drum pattern being rapped over. "So Damn Down" has an upbeat jazz club feel to it, disproving my initial thoughts that the song would be a dose of emo-rap not limited to, but including elements Joe Budden would utilize. "Bang & Boogie" is self-explanatory. The brass bangs (delicately), and you boogie (deliriously).
I bought into it the story behind the album's concept. I enjoyed the fabricated radio host voices and antics at the ends of some of the songs. I laughed at the very well done parody of hardcore rap via the fictitious group, Hardcore Gentleman, in the song of the same name. My listening experience was much more enjoyable, however, when the group stopped attempting to create figures to help speak of the validity of Brooklynati, and just focused on doing what they do best; honest hip-hop. No two songs encompassed this aesthetic more than "Plan B" and "She's Gone". The former is the album's unofficial creed. Von Pea, Donwill, and Ilyas are all capable lyricists with enough personality to distinguish themselves on an individual level. However, it's when their lyrics echo more straightforward sentiment, and they become a conceptual unit, that they truly shine--Voltron, if you will. "Plan B" articulates the struggles of coming up in the hip-hop game, and what each member would have done had they not made it as hip-hoppers. You've heard it all before, but Tanya Morgan's take on it still remains refreshing and genuine. Ilyas raps:
So no Von Pea, no Von seeds.
Don woulda quit, so no Don and me.
So simply from the fact that I can see I exist
We look like three but we are one! Get my drift?
Couple that with a soulfully sung chorus, and you've got the second best song on the album. The first? "She's Gone", the only track on the album not produced by either Brickbeats or Von Pea, and it hits hard. Twinkling synth sounds signal in the kicks and snares. It's motivational. It's "I Used To Love H.E.R." 2009. And though this isn't the first time hip-hop's been likened to a female--the metaphor's been consistently overused and dulled--in a way it still seems like a valid point of reference. These three rappers still feel infatuated with her, or slighted when she tries to act like someone she's not, or upset when she leaves them to be with the guys who represent fads in the industry. They miss the tradition; a tradition that Tanya Morgan harken back to flawlessly... almost.
The album is not perfect. The latter half sort of drags--possibly due to its lengthy runtime of 68 minutes--save for "Just Not True" and "We're Fly", and the songs, for differing reasons, don't carry the same character as the aforementioned tracks. "Never 2ndary" is one of the album's more lyrical moments. The beat, which sounds like vintage funk, seems more interested in standing out from the crowd than it is with fitting in; the track's lyricists follow the same suit, and the song feels like a competition as opposed to a proper collaboration. "Morgan Blu" has a similar issue lyrically, though to much less a degree, and the instrumental is too sparse/minimal for my liking. The Carlitta Durand featuring "Never Enough (Crazy Love)" seems like an attempt at radio rotation, particularly during the chorus, and for this reason falls flat.
This is an album that thrives when there is good chemistry between the members. Whether it be through a shared sense of motive or message, as illustrated on "Plan B", or a convincing example of a new group who raps with experience much their senior, a la "Just Not True", Tanya Morgan have concocted an LP worthy of critical acclaim and music media attention. The claim that they are indeed the torchbearers for De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest remains to be proven. Still, they do close an album well, albeit prematurely. On "We're Fly", the piano/synth/sped-up sample combination as the beat rides out, combined with a female vocalist repeatedly rapping--"If they ain't knowin' why, well then we show 'em"--the album feels as if it's nearing the end of its trip, and quickly approaching its destination. The beat fades out. A child's voice emphatically screams:
Being in an underground rap group, who's name causes them to be commonly mistaken for a b****, is a Tanya
Kind of a muddy sentence, clear this up, as even I'm not sure as to what you're trying to say here.
Cincinnati native MC/Producer,
needs "Von Pea" in there i believe
Brooklyn native MCs Donwill and Ilyas, formerly comprising the hip-hop duo Ilwill,
Change this to "who formerly comprised the hip-hop duo Illwill,"
The album's opener wastes no time transporting you-- "to a place I've seen only in my dreams."
might want to change this to "to a place [you've] seen only in [your] dreams." Also, seeing as this is a really short snippet, you
might not want to italicize it. Typically, I carve out paragraphs for things that are four lines or more, and italicize those, and
just leave the rest unitalicized. But hey, do as you please, by all means.
It's a synth-accented ride through the countryside, showcasing instrumentals with enough twang to be an appropriate
addition to any "Best Country Music Moments in Hip-Hop" compilation, if such a thing exists
Is the first track or the entire album a synth-accented ride? Clarify this. Also, the "Best Country Music Moments in Hip-hop" is
a bit silly in my opinion, but if other people like it, leave it.
dreamed up a new generation's equivalent, albeit derivative
I think this should be "albeit a derivative"
On the surface, it's a simple play on words, taking its name from the cities the three MCs hail from
Should be "respectively hail from"
This is post-Golden Age rap that doesn't spend time starring, dreamy-eyed, into the past. This is hip-hop, with a
schoolgirl crush on De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, that never lets its infatuation escape past diary margins.
I like this alot. But, in my opinion, it would be alot better if it was "This is post-Golden Age rap that doesn't stare dreamy-eyed
into the past. Rather, this is hip-hop with a schoolgirl crush on De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, and it never lets its
infatuation escape past diary margins."
eeping that in mind, the first 4 tracks are definite standouts,
should be four, not 4. im not sure, but i think the rule is you spell out zero to ten and actually put the numerals for 11 on
but including elements Joseph Anthony Budden II would utilize
some people might not know you mean the rapper Joe Budden. change this just in case.
Bang & Boogie" is self-explanatory. The brass bangs (delicately). You boogie (deliriously)
merge these two sentences.
I bought into it (the story, I mean).
just say you bought into the story. flows better that way
articles the struggles of coming up in the hip-hop game, and what each member would have done had they not made it as hip-hoppers.
articulates, i think you mean.
also, that lyrical snippet is not impressive in the least bit. youve done a good job of persuasion up to that point. and it could really hurt your cred if people think "oh he said they were really good and when he gives an example of their lyricism, its really bad maybe he doesnt know hip hop very well." and thatd be really bad. try to find the very best quote from said song.
couple that with a soulfully song chorus, and you've got the second best song on the album, in my personal opinion
soulfully sung i think you mean. also, no need to say "in my personal opinion" or anything like that. youre the writer of the review, and people know this is your opinion. its unnecessary, and makes you seem a bit hesitant about what you think.
The first? "She’s Gone". The only track on the album not to be produced by either Brickbeats or Von Pea, it hits hard.
Should be "The first? "She's Gone," the only track on the album not produced by either Brickbeats or Von Pea, and it hits hard."
In a way, these three rappers still feel infatuated with her. In a way, they still feel slighted when she tries to act like someone she's not, or when she leaves them to be with the guys who represent fads in the industry.
One flaw I see in your writing consistently is how you implement the same phrase or word very close to one another. Do. Not. Do. This. (unless absolutely necessary e.g., if you describe one track that has a trumpet on it and another track with a trumpet on it in consecutive sentences, you cant really replace trumpet, so thats fine) It can disinterest your reader and make you seem like you have a bad vocabulary.
one of the albums more lyrical moments
should be "album's"
track's lyricists follow similar suit, as each lyricist seems to be attempting to outdo the other.
here it is again
a classic funk homage-ing producer loop
you can word this better.
This is an album about chemistry
is it about chemistry or is it good because of the chemistry between members? specify and clarify
Okay now we're all done with critiques. It may look like alot, but this is a really, really good first review, and once you fix all that stuff it will be even better. Color me impressed, dude. Have your first pos.
That's pretty awesome, actually. I've always had some interesting problems when I write essays. I am, first and foremost, a creative writer and poet, etc. I always end up writing papers like I write poetry... which is a BAD idea.
Yea, I don't do as well on Sputnik because I have a hard time viewing albums as a whole, which is bad. Also, I'm pretty creative with my intros, and sometimes people get pissed that they take up too much of the review, which in all fairness, is often true cuz i get carried away. but i love to write, and sputnik is decent practice
plus i really like hip-hop and alot of the people on sputnik are cool.