January 6th, 2012
Title: Timez Are Weird These Days
Artist: Theophilus London
Formats: CD, LP, MP3
Release date: July 19, 2011
Theophilus London’s debut album, Timez Are Weird These Days―a follow-up to his popular mixtapes and 2011 Lovers Holiday EP― has a unique neo-retro feel. There is a certain vibe on the album that hits on an old school era, but definitely has a modern sound. London combines heavy synths reminiscent of ‘80s new wave, rap, and ‘60s rock. Filled with up-tempo songs where he raves about his womanizing skills and wild parties backed up by funky bass and guitar, London shows off his skills as a rapper and singer, much like Kid Cudi, but with a quicker step. Though he could use a little more variety to his beats, London’s debut album is a promising one for the Trinidad-born Brooklyn native, and it brings a different sound to the rap game.
Following is the official video for the album’s opening track and introduction to the artist, “Last Name London”:
Title: Black Up
Artist: Shabazz Palaces
Formats: CD, LP, MP3
Release date: June 28, 2011
Shabazz Palaces (Digable Planet’s Ishmael Butler and Tendai ‘Baba’ Maraire) emerged a couple of years ago out of Seattle and released a few EPs prior to Black Up, their debut full-length album. Black Up has an odd, ambient sound that is strange at times, but definitely interesting. Most of the tracks have a trip-hop feel with rough lyrics. This is not a light record, as most of the songs hit on a dark, hard-edged sound, so there could easily be a division of opinion among listeners. Many of the beats are uniquely jazzy and funky, but there are some that are just downright strange, possibly drawing upon Maraire’s Zimbabwean roots. For instance, the second track, “An Echo From the Hosts that Profess Infinitum,” features a creepy, frequent sample that sounds like a lost child running and yelling for help:
Shabazz Palaces’ rap style lies somewhere between OutKast and Lil Wayne, with a raspy tone and tight rhymes. No matter what, the album surely sparks discussion and makes the listener think. The record definitely has an avant-garde element that makes Shabazz Palaces a difficult group and sound to describe, but they are on to something.
Reviewed by Adam Levin
Review Genre(s): Rap and Hip-Hop