Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

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After releasing their self titled debut last year that sent shockwaves through the hip hop community, Killer Mike and El-P are at it again. Not to take anything away from their previous offering, but this sequel doesn’t just equal its predecessor, but exceeds it by miles. This album makes a loud statement that Run the Jewels are a force to be reckoned with. They may be an unlikely pairing but they deserve every bit of recognition thrown their way due to their consistency in the studio.

The chemistry between the two is unparalleled. Their stark contrasts make for an interesting combination, Mike’s Southern drawl compliments El-P’s rugged rhyming and production perfectly. Both hold their own in terms of writing and delivery, as they both constantly try to match each other’s verses and raise the bar higher each time. The competitive undertones are never more present than on the Travis Barker-assisted ‘All Due Respect’, in which both emcees evoke awe in their ability to rattle off verses like no other.

The lyrics deal with several subjects including politics, women, and music, among others. Perhaps the most topical is the revolutionary ‘Close Your Eyes and Count to Fuck’, which proves that even though it has been a while since Rage Against The Machine’s height of fame, Zack De La Rocha is still able to hold his own with two of the best lyricists around. Their ability to inject some tongue in cheek humour serves in creating several memorable one liners that will put a smile on the face of most listeners, something that has been missing in rap music for quite a while.

El-P shows the world on RTJ2 that he is in a league of his own in terms of production. He utilises the same sound that many hip hop producers try to emulate while remaining unique enough to give each track its own individual identity. ‘Blockbuster Night Pt 1’ & ‘Love Again’ emit such a massive sound that sure to be shaking speakers all over Europe on their upcoming tour.

Several times throughout, both artists express their distaste with feeling underappreciated. With RTJ2, they have created the most compelling rap album of the year so far, that is sure to propel them to their desired and well deserved heights of fame. Their claim that they are the “top tag team for two summers” couldn’t be more accurate. It looks like Kanye and Jay Z are going to have to work pretty damn hard to reclaim that throne of theirs. Now about those cat sounds…

Run The Jewels play Opium Rooms, Dublin on December 21st. Support comes from God Knows & Mynameisjohn, tickets €18.

5/5

-Ross Logan

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Mos Def to play Vicar Street

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Hidden Agenda presents Yasiin Bey a.k.a Mos Def live in Vicar Street on November 24th. One of the greatest emcees of all time is touring to celebrate the 15th anniversary of his debut album ‘Black On Both Sides’. This will be his second show ever in the country & it is definitely a must see for any hip hop fan. Tickets are €33.50 & go on sale October 24th.

Also coming up from Hidden Agenda is Run the Jewels live in the Opium Rooms December 21st, tickets are €18.

Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 with live band & J Rocc DJ set

Choice Cuts presents Chali 2na with a live band in the Sugar Club November 14th. The baritone ambassador of Jurassic 5 is returning with his solo show after two sold out shows with the group in Dublin this June. Tickets are €20 and grants you access to the after party which will feature a DJ set from Stones Throw artist J Rocc. Tickets can be purchased separately for J Rocc for €12.50.

Hip hop legend Talib Kweli also plays the Sugar Club December 10th, tickets are €22.50.

Tickets available from www.tickets.ie

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Time is Illmatic

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Time is Illmatic provides not just an in depth look into Nas’ early life, but also the crippling social conditions in Queensbridge that would heavily influence the creation of his debut album Illmatic. It offers an insightful glimpse into the perspective from which the album was written. Being raised in the hostile and sometimes fatal environment in which he was, he was not just talented but also one of the very few people lucky enough to be able to escape it. Perhaps the most striking part is Nas and his brother recounting the death of their childhood friend, Ill Will, in the same place he was gunned down.

For any fan of hip hop, the documentary is a must see. Very few similar projects are as detailed or at times, poignant as Time is Illmatic. Director One9 did an excellent job of detailing the strife’s of Nas’ early life while not dwelling on them. It makes for an overall optimistic project that is sure to provide hope for anyone in a similar situation.

At the time of its release, Illmatic painted the most accurate and vivid imagery of life in the projects. This documentary ensures that its cultural significance will not be overlooked. It also explores the unique production like never before, with the likes of Q-Tip, DJ Premier & Pete Rock detailing their contributions of timeless beats to the album.

Much like the album itself, it is sure to spawn imitators. Don’t be surprised to see other feature length projects based around albums that are as widely regarded by critics and fans alike. However, few will spark as much emotion in just under 75 minutes as Time is Illmatic.

Time is Illmatic will be screened again in the Sugar Club along with a live performance from Dead Prez on October 22nd

-Ross Logan

Bishop Nehru & MF DOOM – NehruvianDOOM

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There were particularly high expectations on Bishop Nehru when writing and recording for this album. Not only is it his first official release, he also had to keep the MF DOOM super fans, of which he is one, happy in the process. This is not an easy task for a 17 year old with just two mixtapes under his belt. After attracting praise from Nas and Kendrick Lamar, his profile only continued to grow and the pressure was piled on. Clearly not fazed by expectations, on NehruvianDOOM he proves to everyone that being labelled a prodigy and the next big thing only motivated him to progress as an artist.

Working with one of his biggest inspirations must have been daunting, but it has resulted in a more mature and wise Nehru. He showcases his newly refined skills with most conviction on ‘Om’ and ‘Caskets’. DOOM never runs the risk of overshadowing his younger counterpart, only featuring on tracks where needed and handling the production on all tracks. Some of the most interesting points on the album come in the form of his signature, sample filled interludes. These are clearly used to mimic the advice that he is trying to impart to Nehru. Most importantly deciding that “you don’t care what others think of you”.

Although the two artists achieve greatness together with ease, the album still feels lacking in certain departments. A recurring problem is the hooks. ‘Great Things’ and ‘Darkness’ are excellent tracks in terms of lyrics and production, that are let down by ill-fitting and badly delivered hooks. Some DOOM fans may also be irked by the reuse of certain beats from his ‘Special Herbs & Spices’ collection. However, it will go unnoticed by the less hardcore fans due to his production never sounds dated.

It was an interesting choice for Bishop to choose a collaborative format for the release of his first album. NehruvianDOOM was perhaps the best outlet for him to acquire wisdom and knowledge from one of his favourite artists, but it still feels like it only serves as a precursor to his next project. We can be sure that even though this album may not be the instant classic that a lot of people were looking for, but it has permanently changed how Nehru will approach writing and producing in the future, most definitely for the better.

3/5

-Ross Logan

Best of: Concert Movies

The Up in Smoke Tour

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One of the biggest rap concerts ever put on 44 shows all across America in 2000. Featuring everyone from N.W.A founder Ice Cube to newcomer Eminem, who had just released the critically acclaimed Marshall Mathers LP, the show had it all. Lowriders, inflatable middle fingers and giant talking skulls all included. Even Dr.Dre and Snoop Dogg’s set had movie clips of the two artists caught in a shoot out in a liquor store, which they then walk out of and on to the stage. It was big, bold and there will never be another quite like it. Just be glad it was all caught on film.

Alice in Chains: MTV Unplugged

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Recorded for both CD & DVD release, this 1996 show went on to become one of the most famous of the MTV Unplugged sessions. The power and emotion in the late Layne Staley’s voice was never more evident than when they decided to go acoustic. Highlights include Nutshell, Down in a Hole and Would?. Also, keep an eye on Mike Inez’s bass which has the phrase “Friends don’t let friends get haircuts” stuck on it, in reference to the freshly shaven members of Metallica sitting in the crowd.

Dave Chappelle’s Block Party

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Half live performance and half documentary, this may not be have been a traditional concert movie but it definitely has some of the most unforgettable footage. Artists including Kanye West, Erykah Badu and Talib Kweli all came together to perform at Dave Chapelle’s block party in Brooklyn in 2004. Each performance is accompanied by the Roots on the backing track as they put their own twist on each artist’ production. It will also be remembered as one of the rare occasions that the Fugees reunited.

Metallica: Live, Shit, Binge & Purge – Seattle

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This was recorded before the release of the ‘black’ album and before Metallica were hailed as one of the world’s biggest metal bands. Complete with a broken statue of liberty from their …And Justice For All album cover that would crumble to pieces mid set, the 19 song set still remains a fan favourite from a band who have released an extensive amount of live DVDs. It shows the beginnings of a live show that only continues to grow to this day.

Beastie Boys: Awesome, I Fuckin Shot That!

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One of the most innovative concert movies ever made, Awesome: I Fuckin Shot that was made by the Beastie Boys when they played a sold out show in Madison Square Garden. Instead of shooting the concert in a traditional manner, they gave 50 camcorders to concert goers with strict instructions to keep rolling at all times. Before being released to the public, the film was screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

Serial Killers, Voodoo Lounge 25/9/14

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The supergroup is a format that is rarely well executed in hip hop. Many are just groups of label mates who come together to feature on each other’s songs and get a leg up in the charts because of it. Serial Killers, B-Real, Demrick and Xzibit, are on the way to changing the way we view rap supergroups. The 3 emcees have undeniable talent and huge amounts of respect for each other which results in ego never coming into the equation during this one of a kind live show in the Voodoo Lounge.

They begin with a short medley of tracks from their debut mixtape, released last year. Then it’s straight into some Cypress Hill material, even featuring a Rage Against the Machine inspired remix of ‘How I Could Just Kill a Man’ that evokes nostalgia and awe. While still recovering from that, ‘Symphony in X Major’ drops and Xzibit delivers his verse with as much venom and menace as on record. The key to this live show is the set list. Very few shows have the ability to touch on almost every era of hip hop quite like this one. They even lead the crowd in a chant-along over the Sugar Hill Gang to bring things full circle.

They keep up a ferocious pace when playing their lesser known group material. “Angels Come Calling’ & ‘No Coming Back’ prove that they don’t rely on the classics to keep the crowd happy. They may differ from each other greatly, but united under the one banner they are a force to be reckoned with. There’s the rough and rugged styling of Xzibit, the high pitched, weed inspired raps from B-Real & the razor sharp rhyming from Demrick. It is their contrasts that result in a consistently entertaining show that is a must see for any hip hop fan.

-Ross Logan