It’s been a long road for French Montana. The Moroccan born MC (French and his family emigrated to the Bronx from Morocco when he was 13) began building a name for himself in the streets of NYC back in the ‘early 2000’s with his successful Cocaine City DVD series. Cocaine City made French some fans but some of the footage he released earned him some enemies too (Lil’ Cease should be ashamed of himself). Using the DVD’s to gain vital industry connections, French started collaborating with other underground rappers, releasing mixtapes and eventually partnered up with ex DipSet affiliate, Max B for their Coke Wave CD/DVD. French ended up right in the middle of Max’s beef with Jim Jones and his Byrd Gang crew but the way they made light about the situation only managed to make both Max and French that much more popular, able to regularly do shows off of mixtape material. French isn’t a remarkable rapper by any means but his sing songy hooks and ability to adapt a Dirty South (by way of the South Bronx) flow has allowed him to cross over despite the usual regional boundaries. Think of it as East Coast trap music. (more…)
Released in early 2005 and intended as a showcase for all the artists under his newly branded Dame Dash Music Group (which at this point still included Beanie Sigel and State Property, Cam’ron and The Diplomats, N.O.R.E, M.O.P., R&B acts Rell, Denim and Nicole Wray, and the rights to the Roc-A-Fella recordings of the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard), Damon Dash presents Roc 4 Life – Vol. 2: The Second Part Of The Life actually became sort of a swan song for Dame, who by 2006 had seen the dissolution of his label after only one release (Beanie Sigel’s The B. Coming) and by ’07 had almost completely fell back from the music industry, choosing to turn his focus to his other companies. Over the years, rumors of bad investments, money mismanagement and bankruptcy begun to surface and Dash showed back up on the scene in ’09, this time moving behind the scenes as a “consultant” to Jim Jones, eventually netting an executive producer credit on his Pray IV Reign album. It wasn’t until 2010 that Dash fully reinvented himself and reemerged as a joint toking, gray beard sporting Warhol-esque leader of his own DIY hipster rap/alt-rock collective DD172 and his BluRoc imprint, which released Curren$y’s critically acclaimed Pilot Talk and Pilot Talk 2 thru Island Def Jam.
A “rare” mixtape with a limited run of copies, what’s most notable about this one (Outside of a few epic rants by Dame) is the apparent inclusion of Joe Budden into the Roc family, an under publicized chapter in Budden’s career that I’ve never really had any clarity on. Was he ever signed to Roc-A-Fella? Cause the couple of times he pops up on this tape along with the song he recorded with Bleek and Beans lead me to believe that at some point there was some sort of agreement between Dame and Budden. Still, the collection of talent gathered on this tape was thorough and had Dame actually been given a fair shot to get his label off the ground, I think DDMG actually showed some promise. Will Dame ever get another opportunity to make an impact similar to the one Roc-A-Fella had when they came in the game? I seriously doubt it. But there’s no denying the guy had vision.
1. Dame Dash Is Done Skit
2. Dame Dash Intro (Produced By Boola & Dame Dash)
3. Joe Budden, Raekwon, Young Chris, Oschino, Sparks, Peedi Crakk, N.O.R.E. & Nature – Triumph
4. Raekwon Feat. Denim – Tribute
5. Nicole Wray Feat. Beanie Sigel – Can’t Get Out The Game
6. Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Stomp
7. Beanie Sigel Feat. Peedi Crakk, Joe Budden & Young Chris – Flatline (Remix)
8. Beanie Sigel – One Shot Deal
9. Dame Dash Skit
11. M.O.P. – Instigator
12. Bun B Freestyle
13. N.O.R.E. – Cuts From N.O.R.E.
14. Rell – Don’t Take It Away
15. Beanie Sigel Feat. Melissa – Feel It In The Air
16. Juelz Santana Feat. Hell Rell – Not !!ing With Dip Set
17. Killa 3 Freestyle
18. Jim Jones Freestyle
19. Cam’ron Feat. Kanye West & Sylenna Johnson – Down & Out
18. Joe Budden Freestyle
19. Militainment/Gem Star & Big Mato – Nueva York
20. Clark Kent – Ol’ Dirty Bastard Segment
21. Dame Dash Outro
Since the release of The Recession in 2008, Young Jeezy has seen his popularity wane somewhat and that’s mostly due to the rise of artists like Rick Ross and Gucci Mane, rappers who basically inhabit the same lane Jeezy does but who’s musical output and off record antics have managed to captivate the attention of fans. For the most part, the days of taking years off between albums are over. Such a large gap in time between projects used to build anticipation for something new from an artist but today’s rap fans are spoiled by the internet and the flood of music readily available to them at any given time. An artist who takes time off can easily get branded irrelevant in favor of the next best thing…and that’s exactly what happened to Young Jeezy. (more…)
A couple weeks back, Young Jeezy got the most attention he’d gotten in over a year with the signing of blog favorite Freddie Gibbs to his Corporate Thugz Ent. label. The move was seen as a shrewd one for Jeezy because not only is Gibbs a really great rapper with a bubbling underground fanbase and a nostalgic take on Gangster rap but he gives Jeezy something his label has never had. A rapper capable of carving out his own niche without being snugly tucked under the CEO’s wing. U.S.D.A.’s Cold Summer was a shoddily put together weedcarrier showcase that featured Jeezy’s version of Tony Yayo (And one of the worst rappers to ever grace a Def Jam release), Slick Pulla along with Florida rapper Bloodraw (a.k.a. What Jeezy Would Sound Like If He Was 30lbs Heavier And From Florida…And A Lot Less Talented At Rapping) and Bloodraw’s debut “album”, My Life, The True Testimony seemed like an afterthought, released only to justify the existence of the label itself. Jeezy may be a hustler but outside of his own albums, his resume as a record executive is less then impressive.
Cam’ron & Vado – Gunz N Butta
Compared to his less then enthusiastic performance on 2009’s Crime Pays, these days Cam’ron looks to be back in Killa Season form and you’d have to attribute at least some of his new found energy to his latest protege, Vado. The two had been dominating the blog/mixtape scene as The U.N. for the past couple of years and released a “retail mixtape” Hot In Here Vol. 1 (a few new tracks along with a bunch of CDQ versions of their most popular mixtape cuts) in 2010. Curiously the E1 release was to relatively little fan fare, with very little in the way of promotion, viral or otherwise. Still, Cam and Vado have continued to have the streets buzzing in 2011, as they prepare for their first official album, Gunz N Butta. (more…)
With it’s original 2009 release date long past, Lil’ Wayne’s long awaited album, Tha Carter IV has been one of the most anticipated albums of any genre. Beset by Wayne’s excursion into Rock (the ill conceived Rebirth album), weedcarrier showcases (the Gold selling We Are Young Money) and jail time, the followup to 2008’s triple platinum Tha Carter III has been through a number of changes, with some songs being cherry picked for I Am Not A Human Being (a place holder that was released while Wayne was serving a year in jail for a gun charge,) while the rest got scrapped upon Wayne’s release from jail in favor of newly recorded material.