Lil’ Kim – Hard Core (1996)

Lil’ Kim has had an interesting lifetime over the years. She went to prison at one point. But despite that, she also made some great music.

This, her debut, is likely her best. It’s rap with some different beats and textures you’d normally expect elsewhere. It’s also a really great listen. Let’s check out this album.

Intro In A-Minor is a hilarious intro to the world of Lil’ Kim. It’s very explicit and sexual and is a great listen for a laugh. You really have to hear it to experience the humour of it. It’s a great way to begin the album.

Big Momma Thang arrives. It’s a great piece from Lil’ Kim. It has a load of awesome groove-based sounds in it. It also delivers very well lyrically by Lil’ Kim and makes you want more. Class.

The next song is No Time. It’s about staying strong in a world of mediocrity. It has some nice stardust and piano sounds on it. It also has a good array of guest appearances, in a structured way of course. Very sexual and very explicit, once again.

After that, we have Spend A Little Doe which is a catchy piano-driven piece. It talks about selling one’s body for you-know-what. It’s a great number here for sure. Well worth listening to from this album.

Take It! is a skit about sex-based adventures. It would make a person who is very politically correct wince. It leads into the next piece.

Crush On You talks more sexual stuff. It’s an okay piece, but not as good as the cuts before it. Still listenable though.

Following up is Drugs. It’s a really good piece, in fact. The subject matter is self-explanatory. It’s a very good piece. “A different kind of high,” indeed. It’s a chilled out sort of vibe on this song.

The next piece Scheamin’ is a very short skit from the female perspective about sexual desire. It’s an interesting skit indeed.

Queen Bitch talks about gang based culture from Lil’ Kim. It’s a good listen, with some catchy sonic loops, including a piano riff. The lyrics exhibit much colourful language.

Dreams kicks off next. It has a very catchy guitar-based riff throughout. Lil’ Kim excels here. “Dreams of fucking in R & B”. It’s still highly sexual for a song here, which makes it sound out there. But hey, it’s very good.

The next piece is a very close-to-the-bone matter for Lil’ Kim. M.A.F.I.A. Land is about all that. It sounds very deep and meaningful for a rap artist. A good listen. One of the best cuts off the album. A prophetic song before she went to jail, perhaps?

Afterward, we arrive at We Don’t Need It. It’s a sexual story from both the male and female perspective. The chorus is a call-and-response piece from the males and females on this album. A nice effort.

Not Tonight has great electronic sounds at the beginning. It continues the theme of the album. It is super explicit, so ensure you have headphones when listening to this around people of a conservative nature. Excellent though.

Player Haters is another skit. It’s about jealousy, not a bad listen before the last song of the album.

The last piece is the profanity based Fuck You. It sounds discordant, which is a bit different compared to the rest of the album. A good way to conclude this album though.

This album showed the world of Lil’ Kim to the world. Although her output has slowed throughout the years, Lil’ Kim remains a popular celebrity today. A quality listen from Lil’ Kim is here.

7/10

Kid Rock – Devil Without A Cause (1998)

Kid Rock seemingly came out of nowhere with this album, but he had spent many years trying to make it. He had three hit and miss albums prior to this landmark release, Devil Without A Cause. He had been arrested and thrown into jail overnight in 1997 upon being signed to his first major label recording deal. However, despite this, this album changed everything.

Bawitdaba begins our journey, and it has some awesome rap like chanting and screaming before bursting into a great rap/rock piece about Kid Rock’s world. It’s got some awesomely humourous and classy lyrics in it. A must listen – and a Kid Rock classic. The guitar riffs are just killer.

Cowboy follows, and is really very funny. It’s got a great chorus and lyrics otherwise. “Riding at night, because I sleep all day.” Cue the hysterical jokes. But that aside, it’s a great musical piece. Kid Rock does well here. Excellent stuff. Laugh out loud funny.

The title track Devil Without A Cause has the most funktastic wah-wah riff introducing us to the said devil himself, Kid Rock. This guy obviously knows how to rock a party, but does it in such a fantastic way that is imitable. The Kid has come of age here, and he would never look back.

The next piece was an early recording re-released for this album. I Am The Bullgod refers to god-knows-what. But it’s a catchy and upbeat piece, and great to listen to. It’s a classic Kid Rock piece, referring to himself as top dog and a pot god. What a legend.

Roving Gangster (Rollin’) is a funky and musically layered and textured piece telling us a little bit about Kid Rock, touring with Ice Cube when he was younger. He also refers to himself as a trucker and various other things. Yep, Kid Rock is self-obsessed but it’s a great listen nonetheless.

Wasting Time is about what Kid Rock likes to do best in his spare time. Believe it or not, the melodies and lyricism stand out well here. It’s not even a standout track but holds up well. “A little bit of love, that’s all I need. A little inspiration, and a bag of weed.” Classy.

The extended Welcome 2 the Party (Ode 2 the Old School) is a great old school rap like piece. It’s got many different sections and different elements to it, and Kid Rock lets loose towards the end. It’s fantastic, proof that Kid Rock was only just beginning in his musical path in life.

The funktastic I Got One for Ya’ is a great song with Kid Rock’s IDGAF attitude prevalent on it. It’s another great pastiche here, with a great outro. How does he do music like this? Only Kid Rock knows, or so we think.

Somebody’s Gotta Feel This is a rock/metal piece that delivers just really well to the listener and sounds rather Black Sabbath-like in its phrasing. It’s mega cool, and Kid Rock sounds inspired here.

Fist Of Rage is a screamer and shows how good Kid Rock is at vocal delivery. It features some well mixed and variable sounds here. It’s almost heavy metal here, except that Kid Rock is delivering it. Well done.

The answer to where Kid Rock gets his inspiration as the Devil Without A Cause is here: Only God Knows Why. It was written as a self-expression type piece starting during that night in jail but becomes a great serious song on its own. It’s self-obsessed as well for sure, but it is really touching as well. Not too bad here.

And after all that, we have a not-so-serious song at all, the rather awful but direct Fuck Off. Yes, that is what it is called. Anyway, it’s got some interesting lyrics. And guess what? An early Eminem part is here at the end, showing Kid Rock’s foresight in terms of recognising future talent. Interesting in that respect. In between this song and the next one, we have some real Kid Rock answering machine messages, which sound brutal. What a devil.

Where U At Rock follows, it’s a relatively catchy piece with Kid Rock showing some attitude here. It’s a little weaker as a song compared to some of the others, but it’s still Kid Rock being himself. Which isn’t a bad thing really, at least on record.

Black Chic, White Guy / I Am The Bullgod is a two-piece track. The first is a messed up true life story about Kid Rock’s life, a bad experience with an ex-girlfriend of his. The latter is a very good rework of I Am The Bullgod, which depending on your view, is either good or unnecessary. But it’s good anyway.

This record went platinum many times over and made Kid Rock famous. It’s a good record full of twists and turns, by a very humourous and selfish person, Kid Rock. Like him or not, he is here to stay in the music world and is no doubt very good at what he does.

8/10

Dr. Dre – 2001 (1999)

Dr. Dre is a very well known producer who lives on the west coast of the U.S.A. That may be his main claim to fame, but he also excelled as a rapper. He began in the group N.W.A. before beginning his own solo career.

The Chronic was release in 1992 and changed the world of Rap forever. It mixed weed talk, laugh out loud style humour and sexual escapes into the genre. After a few ill-fated excursions, Dr. Dre released this album called 2001. And like The Chronic, it’s a killer listen.

The album begins with Lolo (Intro) and has a spacey sound at the start, followed by a humourous skit with Dr. Dre returning into full gangsta rap mode.

Then it begins. The Watcher has Dr. Dre doing social commentary about his status. Indeed it’s not easy being famous and having to cope with fame, and Dr. Dre specifically points this out. It has some guest rappers, showing that Dr. Dre wanted as variable as a recording as possible.

Fuck You is very explicit from the word go. It features a lady crying at the beginning, before being rather cocky about the treatment of women. It’s not a great song for that reason but is catchy anyway.

The next song was a big hit on the album. Still D.R.E. is a great song about Dr. Dre still having the ability to create music and live up to the hype that was expected of him. The melody has an air of melancholy on it, which is not uncommon during the album.

Big Ego’s begins with a chopper and radio talk before discussing said big egos. It sounds a bit like filler but fits in nicely with the rest of the recording.

Xxplosive suggests weed imagery which persists as a semi-concept of Dr. Dre’s work, set to music. It’s a good listen and once again, has a melancholy melody about it.

The next piece, What’s The Difference features Eminem who was relatively unknown at this point, and quite honestly self boasts about self-worth by the rappers. It sounds somewhat like the classical music piece by Edvard Grieg In The Hall Of The Mountain King, but there are no similarities otherwise.

The skit Bar One is okay. It’s not as funny as you’d think, but it still has its place on the album.

The track segues into Light Speed, which is about getting high. “Lightspeed, blazing through the galaxy,” says a robotic voice. It’s an interesting take on getting high and sounds cheesy.

Eminem returns in full on rap mode in Forgot About Dre. This song is about showing respect to Dr. Dre although he was quiet for a while before he made this recording. It’s something the fans of Dr. Dre, in particular, would value.

The Next Episode is Dr. Dre’s biggest ever hit. It sounds catchy, and more police arrests have been conducted for this song being aired than any other song before or since at residential areas. Besides that, it’s a great piece and sounds catchy. It ends with the phrase, “Smoke weed every day”. As if it were compulsory to smoke weed.

Let’s Get High is weak but fun overall. Dr. Dre says, “Yeah, I just took some ecstasy. Ain’t not knowing what the side effects could be, all these fine bitches equal sex to me.” This is no doubt a profane record, don’t play it to your parents.

The next piece Bitch Niggaz seems like another much weaker piece. It drags on and could have been edited. Nonetheless, once again, it fits in well with the rest of the recording.

The Car Bomb is fairly straightforward, what you’d expect from Dr. Dre type of skit. It’s not essential listening, but interesting anyway.

Murder Ink. talks directly about the gang life that is so prevalent in rap culture. Indeed, more rappers have been shot than rockstars, so it is understandable for a rapper to live in fear. Dr. Dre is still with us, fortunately, and delivers here.

The next tune, Ed-Ucation talks about the stupidity of affairs. Indeed, that is exactly the point and explicitly talks about them. It’s a word of warning to others who get involved in affairs, so not an easy listen for some.

Some L.A. Niggaz has a lot of guest rappers on it and is largely forgettable. Still, Dr. Dre’s got it and this album is good more so as a concept album, rather than excelling at individual songs.

Turn everything upside down, and you have Pause 4 Porno, which is not a typical take on sex. It’s essential listening for the humour within it.

Gold digging women should avoid the next song. Housewife talks about gold diggers in an upbeat and funny way. It’s true, “You can’t make a ho a housewife!” A good and enjoyable listen.

Ackrite is rubbish and features rapper Hittman extensively. Obviously, not everything Dr. Dre did was great. This is one of the songs that fall into this category.

Bang Bang features a computer-generated vocal chorus and talks about guns and ghetto life. It’s annoying a bit, but still listenable. But definitely annoying.

The last real track on this album is a tear jerker. The Message confirms the melancholy feel of this album and shows why. “Listen…listen…listen…” If you ain’t been there, you wouldn’t understand. Dr. Dre raps about losing his brother, quite a sad thing to experience.

The Outro is a funny skit for those who made it to the end. It doesn’t disappoint.

Why should you seek out this album? Many young people these days do smoke weed and enjoy this sort of music. If you fall into this category, get this album. For other listeners, it’s a good one to listen to now and again. It’s still essential, even though it is not 2001, and is now 2018. Enjoy this one, it’s a rapper’s delight.

7/10

Far East Movement – Free Wired (2010)

Who knew that a bunch of cool dudes living in California from an Asian background would make such great tunes? This album is a good album and deserves your attention.

The album itself is a great mixture of Electro, Hip Hop, EDM beats and RnB Pop sensibilities. Let’s give a run through of the track listing:

The first song Girls On The Dancefloor sets the scene, a party tune that is catchy, modern and hook-laden. It is pure fun.

The group’s biggest hit follows, Like A G6. This song features cut-up vocals, a catchy 808 “bump” and references to heavy drinking. Club central? You got it. Just don’t act like you’re drunk when you listen to this song.

Rocketeer is a rather melancholy piece about being in love. It’s great listening for anyone out there, “I’ve never been to outer space before, but I’ve never seen a face like yours” is a great lyric. These guys show more flexibility than your average pop group.

The next song features Snoop Dogg and comes titled as If I Was You (OMG). It’s a hilarious song about admiring the things girls do to get a guy’s attention. Pretty dirty though.

She Owns The Night is a great dance piece about a girl who masters her moves on the dancefloor. It’s more interesting and catchy than you’d think. These guys obviously had their fair share of wild nights.

The album begins to lag with So What? It’s not a bad tune, but can be repetitive to some. It does sample Kid Rock screaming, “WHATCHU WANT?!!” which proves that these guys had a variety of music tastes outside of the music scene that they would typically play.

Fighting For Air is a passionate song about sharing moments with a lady. And it’s not bad. In fact, by this point, this album is still going, and it kicks ass.

The following song White Flag features yet another guest Kayla Kai and is almost call-and-response in the way it is structured between verses and choruses. This is an unusual technique in today’s pop music and shows how intelligent the Far East Movement are.

The last song is kind of funny, but rather rubbish. 2 is Better is rather politically incorrect, and is only advisable for heterosexual men to listen to.

So why this album? Many people who follow the latest trends would identify this album as “old”. But it still sounds amazing and fresh to this day. If you have a Friday or Saturday night free and are about to hit the clubs, give this one a whirl. Nothing is more suitable for such an occasion. Despite the fact there are many guest musicians here, Free Wired is a club classic.

7/10