CD Reviews

Zero Heroes, Covert Coup and Adventures in Counter Culture

Futuristic Nerd Rap

XV Zero Heroes (Self-Released)

Before XV releases his major label debut, The Kid With the Green Backpack, on Warner, the MC from Wichita, Kan., cuts loose a project to hold fans over and give a taste of what’s to come. The self-released Zero Heroes tells the loose-knit story of a self-proclaimed nerd who is a hero to the “squarians” of the world. The Just Blaze-produced opener “Wichita” finds XV championing the tiny town over a breezy sample of the Dells’ “Wichita Linemen.” From there, it’s Vizzy bounding about with tales of growing up and not succumbing to the pressure of the streets on “Textbook Stuff” alongside Kendrick Lamar and having big dreams in a small town on the J. Cole-produced “Smallville.” On “The Last Hero,” XV is joined by Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump to close the album. Stump provides a strong chorus to punctuate XV’s rhymes about never changing regardless of accolades he may receive. The only conceivable drawback with Zero Heroes is that Vizzy won’t be able to sneak up on people anymore. He’s proven that he’s that damn good. ★★★★☆

Soulful Weed Rap

Curren$y & Alchemist Covert Coup (Jet Life Recordings/Warner Bros.)

When New Orleans rhymeslinger Curren$y announced that he planned to release a project with lauded producer Alchemist, fans of both men rejoiced. It seemed like a match made in heaven, and the truth of the matter is that Covert Coup is an impressive project on all accounts. Everything on Covert Coup is short, sweet and to the point. It also manages to deliver just enough to make you want more. Clocking in at under 30 minutes, the duo doesn’t have much time to waste and gets right to work on the murky opener “BBS” as Curren$y spits about weed, rhymes and haters—with slick punchlines and a smooth delivery. When paired with the recently released-from-prison Prodigy of Mobb Deep, the results are impressive as they trade shit-talking rhymes over spaced-out production. Although Curren$y doesn’t talk about much, he does it well enough to keep you engaged. Covert Coup is delivered in the perfect dosage to keep its songwriting flaws from surfacing. ★★★☆☆

Socially Conscious & Experimental Hip-Hop

Blueprint Adventures in Counter Culture (Rhymesayers)

Adventures In Counter Culture finds Columbus, Ohio’s Blueprint taking on society from the perspective of those who could care less about talentless celebrities who somehow turn their 15 minutes of fame into an extended stay on our televisions. This frustration is captured on “Stole Our Yesterday” as Blueprint weaves a tale of a bank robber who has succumbed to society telling him that he doesn’t have enough to be happy. “Wanna Be Like You” and “Fly Away” both project a similar message amid a backdrop that feels yanked from a John Hughes movie with its keyboard drums and grunting guitars. The latter is a stellar song in which Print struggles to break the shackles of a menial day job in favor of dream- chasing. All in all, Blueprint’s latest is a refreshing album that speaks to those who want more substance in their lives. ★★★★☆

Suggested Next Read

Split Personality

Movie Review

Split Personality

Watching Mel Gibson’s relentlessly reckless self-destruction has been about as much fun as standing by helplessly, observing a truck jackknife on a crowded turnpike. This is what it must have been like in the old days, when Fatty Arbuckle ruined his career with a Coke bottle and Frances Farmer was dragged, kicking and handcuffed, from Cary Grant’s leading lady to the insane asylum. If Gibson has any fans left, now’s the time for them to rally.