Last Week’s Albums: Prophets Of Rage, Young Thug, G-Unit & Fabolous

Prophets Of Rage – The Party’s Over

When rumours began circling about the reformation of Rage Against The Machine, it’s fair to say most of us 90s kids got excited. While we didn’t get exactly what we wanted, Prophets Of Rage is as close as we’ll come (unless Audioslave give it another go). Rage members Tom Morello (guitar), Tim Commerford (bass) and Brad Wilk (drums) have joined forces with Public Enemy‘s Chuck D and DJ Lord, along with Cypress Hill’s B-Real, forming the supergroup Prophets Of Rage. As for the reasons for this unique collaborative effort, Morello summed it up best in a recent interview with Rolling Stone Magazine; “We’re an elite task force of revolutionary musicians determined to confront this mountain of election year bullshit, and confront it head-on with Marshall stacks blazing.” Or for the more cynical listener, “How can we squeeze a few more dollars out our music?”

Deriving their name from the Public Enemy song Prophets Of Rage – taken from their classic 1988 album, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back – the band have been touring the States and playing hit filled sets comprising of Rage, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill tracks, along with a bunch of covers and a few originals. The Party’s Over is the band’s first official release, and although it contains only one new song, is a good overview of what to expect from the group. Just imagine Rage trading Zach de la Rocha for Chuck D and B-Real, and you know what to expect with this five track EP.

The EP opens with Prophets Of Rage, an updated version of Public Enemy’s 1988 track. With added instrumentation and a brand new verse from B-Real, which urges you to stand up for your rights, it’s a decent interpretation of one of Public Enemy’s classic tracks. The sole original number, The Party’s Over, is a thumping dose of rap-rock with each member of the group given room to showcase their musical talents. A similar theme of raging against the machine runs throughout this track, with Chuck and B-Real’s distinct voices working well in unison during the chorus. The last three tracks are two live covers, Rage’s Killing In The Name and Public Enemy’s Shut Em Down, and another reworking, this time a mash-up of The Beastie Boys’ No Sleep Til Brooklyn and RATM’s Fight For The Power, retitled No Sleep Til Cleveland. While these tracks aren’t new, they provide that familiar feeling of nostalgia that’s sure to fire up many old fans of not only Rage, but Public Enemy and Cypress Hill.

While it’s great to see these legendary musicians coming together to continue to push their agenda and get people, particularly young Americans, invested in current political events and the future of their country, the lack of original songs is disappointing. While there is no doubt the tracks they cover are still relevant today, I can’t help but feel most people buying this EP or going to their shows are doing so for the nostalgia value. I applaud what the band are trying to do, but after Audiosoave failed to set the world on fire, do we really need another variation of Rage without Zach at the helm?

Verdict: The machine continues to rage but for how long?

Young Thug – JEFFERY

There are few, if any other artists in the hip-hop game as divisive as Southern MC Young Thug. A leader of the new generation of rapper who favour auto-tune and trap influenced beats along with a disregard for traditional hip-hop sounds and structures, Thug is helping take the culture into uncharted territory, as highlighted by the album cover art. Young Thug appears in an androgynous dress designed by Italian designer Alessandro Trincone, doing his best to confront hip-hop’s negative views towards the LGBT community, hoping rap fans understand it doesn’t matter what you wear or what your sexuality is, we are all equal – “you can be a gangsta in a dress,” he says. This might seem like a token gesture, but anyone who’s followed Thugger’s career path knows he embraces all sexes, races and cultures and has nothing but love for everyone he interacts with, similar to the original internet rapper, Lil B.

While JEFFERY (formerly known as No, My Name Is JEFFERY) isn’t the debut album we’ve been waiting so long for, it’s certainly another quality release from Young Thug. With each track named after one of his idols, Young Thug sounds focused and committed across the 10 tracks, delivering his unique brand of rap over beats from some of the game’s best producers. Along with paying homage to his favourites via song titles, many of the mixtape tracks incorporate musical nods, with Wyclef Jean having a Caribbean vibe and Future Swag sounding like a Future rip-off, with Thugger’s high sexualised lyrics also similar to Future Hendrix‘s.

Elsewhere Floyd Mayweather finds Young Thug joined by Gucci Mane, The Gunna and Travi$ Scott for a song about the four’s excessive lifestyles and RiRi is a tribute to Rihanna, with Thug repeating the words “work” throughout the song. Then there’s a bizarre salute to Harambe, and the Wyclef dance-hall pop collaboration Kanye West (formally known as Elton John and Pop Man).

Verdict: If this doesn’t convert you then you’ll never be a Thugger fan. (Ed. note: can vouch for this. Not a Young Thug fan. Digging at least half of Jeffery.)

G-Unit – The Lost Flash Drive

50 Cent and The Game finally buried the hatchet a few weeks ago, so it’s no surprise new music from the G-Unit crew has surfaced online. The Lost Flash Drive is a mixtape of unreleased tracks that didn’t make the final cut of the last two G-Unit EPs, The Beauty Of Independence and The Beast Is G-Unit. Hosted by the Unit’s regular DJ, DJ Whoo Kid, the tape features all members of the group in the majority of tracks except their fearless leader 50, who only shows up for end track Wait A Minute.

The absence of 50 is a blessing in disguise, as it allows every other member to flex their skills. Lloyd Banks and Young Buck are the clear highlights of the tape. Banks’ clinical one liners and punchlines are on display during tracks like Superville and Worldwide, while Buck keeps things gangster on the Mortal Kombat sampling Fatality and It’s A Stick Up. Buck even gets his own solo track, FREE Young Buck Freestyle, easily the tapes best track. Over a beat that samples Outkast‘s SpottieOttieDopaliscious and Elevators, Master P’s Bout It Bout It, Three 6 Mafia’s Sippin’ On Some Syrup and a 2Pac track I just can’t place, Buck riffs about his time in the streets and celebrates the life of many rappers and singers who have passed away. As for the other two, there’s not much to say. Game’s replacement Kidd Kidd is a more poor mans 50 who rattles off a few decent bars here and there (particularly Get Away) while Tony Yayo, the weakest member of G-Unit, fails to impress as usual.

As a G-unit fan, this is a great reminder of what the group are capable of. While Yayo and Kidd aren’t top tier rappers, they gel well with Banks and Buck. Add in a couple more 50 verses and get Game involved and the G-Unit revolution could well be in full swing.

Verdict: G-unit season is approaching.

Fabolous – Summertime Shootout 2: The Level Up

Fabulous is that rare breed of rapper who has managed to forge a successful career without ever releasing a groundbreaking album. It’s not that his major label releases are terrible, just more middle of the road, containing more filler than killer. On the flip side, Fab has released a string of well received mixtapes that trump any of his six solo albums. The latest is Summertime Shootout 2: The Level Up, the sequel to last year’s mixtape of the same name, featuring 13 tracks of original material, remixes and freestyles.

As he declares on first track, To The Sky, Fab believes he’s ready to “Level up” his career and become one of raps big names, and after listening to SS2, he’s certainly going about it the right way. Sampling some big hits and roping in a number of the new wave of rappers, Fab is doing his best to appeal to a hip-hop market fuelled by the youth. Lil Uzi Vert joins him on the Outkast sampling Godard Bag and rising New Yorkers Dave East and Don Q, both known for their lyrical prowess, feature on For The Family. Fab even includes his and Troy Lanez’s remix of Joe Budden’s Flex, now titled 4am Flex and minus Budden.

Remixes of Rihanna and Trey Songz’Sex Wit Me, Future‘s Check On Me and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie‘s My Shit are entertaining, but it’s Fab’s solo cuts that will have you hoping he’s finally ready to deliver a hit album. Ah Man is a thumping street anthem and Ashanti a touching tribute to the singer that loosely samples her 2000 hit Foolish. Then there’s the chilled Wale collaboration Faith In Me and the short but impacting freestyle Team Litty.

As with most his mixtapes, SS2 is a solid release that plays to Fab’s strengths and most certainly will appeal to the younger hip-hop heads not familiar with his near two decade long career.

Verdict: Soild

Image: HasItLeaked