Summer CD reviews-o-rama

Dallah Bill
The Almighty Dallah BillIt could be said that with an authentic criminal past, overwhelming passions for money, jewelry, weed and hoes and willingness to pop a cap in your ass, Dallah Bill has all the prerequisites for hip hop stardom. Unfortunately, he is missing one critical component: the ability to rhyme. This man couldn’t rap his way out of a wet paper bag; he makes the simplistic flows of Nelly look like lyrical masterworks by comparison. He has no concept of how to land a punchline, no sense of timing and wouldn’t know a decent metaphor if it jumped up and bit him in the ass. Instead he chooses to use mindless phrasing and childlike rhymes to carve out boring, formulaic tales of fights, crime capers, nights out drinking and one night stands. It’s as if he got a gangsta-rap-by-numbers kit for his birthday and is trying it out for the first time.
In addition to his complete inability to rhyme, Dallah Bill’s debut also has certain problems of autheticity. It probably is true that Bill spent time in prison, as he mentions it repeatedly over the course of the album, the man has obviously forgotten his roots. Bill is an Edmontonian of South Asian decent; unfortunately no one told him. Instead, he has deluded himself into thinking he is the lost Cash Money Millionaire. The entire album is done in an affected N’Awlins drawl and filled with self conscious “y’alls” while the beats sound as if they were taken from tapes found while Bill was rummaging around in Manny Fresh’s garbage. Dallah Bill literally can’t even steal a decent beat.
Not only is this the worst album I’ve heard this year, this may well be the worst album I’ve ever heard in my entire life. Dallah Bill has managed to go beyond making a bad album and has actually committed a crime against humanity. It will take years of therapy to undo the damage this record has done to my psyche. (BDR/Last Tango)
— dart

Kardinal Offishall
Firestarter Vol. 1: Quest for Fire

By this point, everyone has probably heard Quest for Fire’s breakout single, “Bakardi Slang,” the song that introduces the world to the Canadianized patois that is the lingua franca of T-dot’s hip hop scene. What the masses have yet to realize, however, is that Firestarter Vol. 1 is not an album with one hot single being used to cover up acres of mediocrity, but that Quest for Fire is a phenomenal album from start to finish. Kardinal is in top lyrical form for this, his major label debut, flexing his unique blend of reggae influenced rhyming, zany, over-the-top humour and classic battle rhyming skills for an album that is guaranteed to make Kardinal Canada’s new hip hop ambassador.
Firestarter Vol. 1 features a wide array of sounds, allowing Kardinal to show himself as a diverse artist. “Maxine” is an old school mid-tempo reggae tune, complete with horn section, that is a throwback to the sounds coming from Jamaica in the late ‘70s. “Ol’ Time Killin,’” on the other hand sounds like a freestyle session with a chorus thrown in, with Kardinal and guest MCs Wio-K, Black Kat, Korry Deez and Allistair freely trading verses as if in a cipher.
Quest for Fire may be the best album of the year thus far, with it’s only flaw being that too many tracks are recycled from last year’s Husslin’ e.p., but since that effort was a hip hop masterpiece in its own right, the rehashing is totally forgiveable. (Figure IV/MCA/Universal)
— dart

Hawksley Workman
(Last Night We Were) The Delicious Wolves

Age-old rock critic query: What is the masculine version of “diva?” Is it “devo?” A legitimate question, though probably not the best answer, especially if it lumps Mark Mothersbaugh in with Celine Dion.
Uncertainty about precise terminology aside, Toronto performer Hawksley Workman is a diva. A goddamned diva. With a three-octave vocal range (see: a reanimated Freddie Mercury with a vice clamp draped from his ruby reds… but in a good way), an irreverent Bacharach-esque arrangement style, and a penchant for feather boas, Workman could be a horrifying plane wreck on the already-stagnant Canadian music industry or the best thing since Alanis hit puberty.
We’re gonna go out on a limb, despite the fact that we’ve never had someone go down on us in a theatre, and pick the latter. Somehow, in the straight-laced confines of conservative Hogtown, Workman has built himself a one-man cabaret. Show tunes meet the Thin White Duke kinda thing, with less-than-subtle traces of raging rock n’ roll glam and eroto-new wave

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