CD Reviews

The Bite Marked Heart EP, Alignment and UCLA

Preachy Relationship-Rap

Brother Ali The Bite Marked Heart EP (Rhymesayers)

In hip-hop, the term “Chuuch” is often used to signify something sacred. Well, in the temple of hip-hop, Brother Ali is the minister and everything he says is sacred. The always-engaging MC, with a delivery reminiscent of a pastor’s sermons, releases The Bite Marked Heart to remind hip-hop heads that there is truly no MC like Brother Ali. What makes this project different is that Ali has made the theme of love and love lost the focal point. As always, Ali’s voice is captivating. Whether he’s cooing women alongside Phonte and Stokley Williams on “I’ll Be Around” or navigating around a broken heart on the title track, Ali never loses your attention. Tracks such as the groovy “Electric Energy” find Ali dropping knowledge to the ladies about egotistical men, and they’re entertaining from both a lyrical and production standpoint. With soulful backdrops courtesy of Jake One and Ant, the seven-track EP is impressive. The only drawback is that you’re left wanting more. ★★★★☆

Melting Pot Hip-Hop

The Airplane Boys Alignment (Beau Monde)

Toronto has been a hotbed in the music scene as of late. With Drake taking the industry by storm and The Weeknd’s sultry brand of R&B making an impact over the past year, it’s only right that another act from the city comes along to make its presence felt. The Airplane Boys, consisting of Beck Motley and Bon Voyage, created a buzz last year with the “Where’ve You Been” mixtape. They’re now following up with the release of Alignment. Just like their home city, Alignment is a melting pot of musical culture. Effortlessly blending electronica and hip-hop with some pop sensibilities, The Airplane Boys establish themselves as yet another Canadian act to watch. Whether it’s the synth-driven title track or the spooky vampire undertones of “New Blood,” the duo is able to both pay homage to their influences and set themselves apart from their peers. Despite being a little long in the tooth at 16 songs, Alignment just might be the project that allows them to take off. ★★★☆☆

Random Raps

Blu & Madlib UCLA (Self-released)

The ever-elusive Blu has no rhyme or reason as to when and why he puts out projects; he just kind of does as he feels. With that comes the release of his collaborative effort with producer Madlib, UCLA, and it drops with no warning (natch). What jumps out at you immediately is that this high-profile collaboration was released almost like a throwaway album. No singles, no promo, no nothing. It’s just here. Once you get past that, you then have to deal with the piss-poor sound quality of the album and the fact that it’s far too short. All is (somewhat) forgiven because it’s actually a solid project. Madlib’s quirky beats mesh well with Blu’s vibrant lyricism on choice cuts “What U C” and “Burgandy Whip.” It’s too bad that more care wasn’t given to this release because the technical deficiencies outweigh the actual music. ★★☆☆☆