Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New Music By Spyder-D, Mikey D, Sparky D, and More?

After dabbling with mp3s, Spyder-D's label Newtroit Records has put out it's first physical release... well, technically since "Big Apple Rappin'" in 1980.  But Spyder's last album was in 2000 on Mecca Records, another label he was affiliated with.  So we'll call it eleven years.

But this isn't a new Spyder-D album, it's a compilation album showcasing the acts on his label, entitled Heat Seekers volume 1.  There's a lot of new names you won't recognize on here, but also several old school legends you most certainly will.  It's not a mixCD; none of the songs are blended together or incomplete, but the album is hosted by DJ Red Alert.  In this case, what that means is that he introduces every song, telling us who it's by - handy, because there are a lot of unknowns in the line-up, and you don't want to have to keep looking back at the back of the CD case every 3 minutes.

It opens with one of the strongest tracks, actually by one of the new artists: "Don't Worry About It" by Bobby Seals a.k.a. Doughnuts.  The production and hook - both also by Seals - are upbeat and catchy.  Seals has a lot of energy and he's even making a good point about celebrity gossip and other junk information we assail ourselves with.  Good shit.

Unfortunately, the whole album doesn't reach that high bar.  There's a lot of songs on here (22), and a lot are just boring.  Also, because it's showcasing everyone on his label, and he has a wide variety of acts, the album is kind of all over the place: straight R&B songs, street rap, pop stuff, songs which feel like they're chasing fads.  "My Crush" feels like the slower sequel to that Rebecca Black video that's all over Youtube, several of the artists here crank the autotune up to 11 and one of the female rappers on here sounds like a Kreayshawn knock-off.

But that's why God made the Skip Forward button, and no one is forcing you to include all these songs when you rip this and upload it to your ipod, so let's just talk about the interesting stuff.

Most of the other unknowns are kinda generic, so we'll skip right to the established old school artists (the whole reason any of will be buying this CD, anyway) right after this one last, interesting guy: Blaclite.  Have you ever had the perverse notion to blend horrorcore with Christian rap just to see what you'd get?  Me either, but this guy has and the results are indeed pretty bugged.  His voice and flow would sound completely natural alongside The Flatlinerz and The Headless Horsemen, and the production (by Blaclite himself) consists of strained, high-pitched organ notes over a break.  His hook is half-sung, half-deranged like ODB, but the lyrics, instead of demons killing you, is about demons being burned by his faith in Jesus.

Okay, now let's get to the artists we know...  there's a song on here by Sparky D called "Holla At Ya Girl."  This one features the girl I mentioned before, who I said sounds like a Kreayshawn knock-off (who also has her own song on here).  So, try to imagine Sparky and Kreayshawn doing a song together.  And since she's an evangelist now, Sparky also gives her lyrics a Christian bent: "to my ladies in stilettos, diamonds and pearls, as we walk through the mall, they be like, 'go on, girl!' My bible make my swagger swerve, quotin' scripture, readin' words. Go and buy a bottle of 'Holla At Your Girls!'"  It's... well, it's interesting.

Spyder's got a pretty cool song on here called "Heads Be Noddin."  Surprisingly, it's the only song produced by Spyder himself.  The go-to producer for the bulk of this album is actually Grand Creator K-Wiz, Sparky's DJ from back in the day.  Very cool to see him still around, but - focus! - this track's by Spyder, and it's cool and dark.  He's got a hook sung by Shady Grady of Parliament Funkadelic.  His lyrics are hard, his voice is that classic deep voice he's always had... I like this one.

But while Spyder sounds as good as ever, unfortunately, Mikey D fits the stereotype of an older MC today... sounding slower and tired.  "Dramacide" is a message song, which is cool in a way (I certainly don't disagree that street violence is bad), but it also seems like a que for a lower energy flow and melodramatic production.  It's okay for Mikey D completists, but everyone else can sleep at night knowing they're not missing out if they don't get this.

Of the R&B songs on here, easily the best is the one by Oran "Juice" Jones (though there's also an acapella song by a group called Kazual that shows some noticeable talent).  It's called "I'm a Pimp," and as Red Alert says, "the song you're about to here is self explanatory."  Fun stuff.

This next song must've been on deck for a while, since he passed in 2008, but there's a cool track by MC Breed and someone named Absolute Truth.  Breed sounds dope as ever.  Truth is a little corny, but at least he's enthusiastic.  Breed fans will like it, although they'd probably have preferred a Breed solo song.

Money B (yes, the Digital Underground one) has a new group out called M.A.S.K. and a song on here called "Is U Down," with a hook by Ne-Yo.  It's cool, and the production is nice, though I'd've preferred more of Money B and less of the other guys.

And that about raps up most of the album...  Trey Songz makes a cameo, and there are a couple other forgettable songs by new artists.  The album ends on a high note, however, with the "Heat Seekers Cipher," where all the rappers on this album - and a couple others who weren't on it, including the original Kidd Creole and somebody who sounds like Snaggapuss - get down on a massive, 8 1/2 minute posse cut.  Creole and Sparky come the strongest.

Ultimately, there's some cool stuff on here, but nothing great.  And even the good material gets drowned out by the mediocre stuff surrounding it.  Most people will pass this one by, and they'll be making the right decision for themselves.  I can really only recommend this CD for someone like me, who's a big enough fan of some of these old school artists that just their contributions make this a must-have.  If that's you, though, you won't be disappointed.  This isn't one of those "old school rapper makes hideously awful comeback attempt that's embarrassing to listen to" situations.  It's a respectable outing.

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