CD Reviews

Ghost Lady, The Martyr and Ambition

Music for the Soul

Cocaine 80s Ghost Lady Self-Released

Known as “The Godfather of Chicago Hip-Hop,” producer No I.D. has been making a name for himself in 2011. He’s the vice president of Def Jam Records, and he’s responsible for Common’s classic “I Used to Love H.E.R.” and for introducing Kanye West to producing hip-hop songs. But he has never been considered a mainstream star, preferring to bask in behind-the-scenes glory. No I.D. slips out this cryptic soul project under the guise of Cocaine 80s. With Common kicking rhymes, James Fauntleroy providing vocals, Kevin Randolph on keys, Steve Wyreman on bass and Rob Kinelski engineering, Ghost Lady is 27 minutes of brilliant soul music the features death as the motif. “Six Ft. Over,” featuring Common, “Missing Me From Heaven” and “The Fall” deal with the death of companionships and execute it oh-so-well. Pristinely orchestrated by No I.D., Ghost Lady tackles the concept of lost love like no other. If only it were longer. ★★★☆☆

Revolutionary Rap

Immortal Technique The Martyr Viper Records

The revolution may not be televised, but Immortal Technique will make sure that it’s heard. Having been relatively silent since 2008’s The 3rd World, the Peruvian African-American releases The Martyr as a free project and has a lot to get off his chest in the three years that have passed. The Martyr is Public Enemy on steroids and projected through your speakers in 2011. “Rich Man’s World (1%)” is a cynical look at how the rich stomp on the poor in America while the J. Dilla-produced “Toast to the Dead” looks to carry on the struggles of hip-hop’s forefathers. The content is heavy and likely to draw the ire of Fox News for its raw nature. “Civil War” features some of hip-hop’s finest social-commentary MCs as Chuck D, Killer Mike and Brother Ali providing the soundtrack that will have you starting an Occupy America movement. While today’s hip-hop revels in materialism and selfishness, Immortal Technique is music for the people. Powerful stuff. ★★★★☆


Wale Ambition Maybach Music Group

DC’s Wale dropped critically acclaimed yet commercially disappointing Attention Deficit on Allido Records two years ago. Feeling like he didn’t have the push and artistic freedom he wanted from the label, Wale decided to part ways and aligned with Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group. Some gasped that an Internet sensation and so-called backpack rapper would opt to join forces with Ross, but as exhibited on his sophomore album Ambition the unity works to perfection. Rick Ross gives Wale the audience he’s always wanted, but Wale doesn’t sacrifice much in terms of making music. He still kicks witty rhymes over the top of go-go drums on “Don’t Hold Your Applause” and appeals to the finger-snapping poetry crowd on the female-directed “Lotus Flower Bomb.” His more clubby anthems don’t deter much from his “Nike Boots” days as the Big Sean-assisted “Slight Work” will likely send strippers scrambling for the poles. It may have been easy to dislike Wale for crawling out of the underground and into the mainstream, but Ambition is very difficult to dislike. ★★★☆☆

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Tour Buzz


Tour Buzz

By Geoff Carter

CHECK OUT ANYTIME: The year was 1994, and the Eagles were playing at Sam Boyd Stadium during what would prove to be one of several “reunion tours.” (The latest of these comes to the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Nov. 5 and again on Nov. 19; tickets are $77 to $226.) My friends and I wanted to make a Heavy Metal Parking Lot-style documentary to mark the occasion, so we loitered outside of Sam Boyd for the better part of six hours, interviewing belligerent drunks.