The Drop

By Kyle Stegerwald, Asst. Red Pulse Editor

“Raw Footage”
Ice Cube

Ice Cube’s glory days with NWA and his wildly-successful solo career are 15 years in the past, and after 2006’s tepid Laugh Now, Cry Later a lot of people wrote him off as just another rapper who tried to come back and ended up embarrassing himself. After listening to Raw Footage, it’s difficult to understand how he made Laugh Now, Cry Later and it’s difficult to understand why he was written off. But it’s easy to see why he’s one of the giants of west coast hip-hop. He’s always been “controversial” (frequently “correct”) and in this album he brings the same effortless confidence and incendiary (he calls it “pyroclastic”) flow that made him famous to blistering screeds against corporations, media and the politicians who blame gangsta rap for violence. Ice Cube has done a lot of amazing things, but the most amazing may well be his ability to put out solid gold like this long after most rappers have retired and faded away.
-KS

“We’ll Live and Die in These Towns”
The Enemy UK

This is a difficult album to listen to but not for the reasons The Enemy probably intended. The musical themes are sobering- the “bum education, double-digit inflation” kind, and are apparently drawn from The Enemy’s sordid upbringing in the suburbs of Coventry. The thrashing drums and rhythmic guitars fit well with the sing-song choruses and impassioned verse about the minimum wage, teenage promiscuity and loneliness. But it takes more than acknowledging how crappy things are to make a compelling song about these things, and The Enemy doesn’t quite have the finesse to handle it. The terminal dullness of their surroundings seems to have crept into their music a bit, and too often they resort to driving, anthemesque choruses and lyrical cliches to make their point.
-KS

“Pro Tools”
The GZA

This could be an album of spoken-word nursery rhymes over top-40 country hit beats and it wouldn’t matter for the Genius and his place in the rap pantheon. His position as one of the all-time greats is already very well secured and this album is sterling proof that he knows it. It’s still the Genius & co. rapping so it’s automatically better than a good chunk of what’s out there, but in Pro Tools it sounds like he’s just phoning it in. Don’t expect classic lines like those from Liquid Swords and don’t expect beats to make any sense or even sound that good. This is an album for dedicated Genius fans only.
-KS

Ice Cube

The Enemy

GZA