The Drop

By By Kyle Stegerwald, Asst. Red Pulse Editor

By Kyle Stegerwald, Asst. Red Pulse Editor


Shwayze is producer Cisco Adler and rookie MC Aaron Smith and their album is about weed, women and California. It’s well-trod territory for music in general and hip-hop especially, which raises expectations that these two could at least copy the greats, but Shwayze still can’t deliver. Most of the songs that are not immediately forgettable are mired in Adler’s sketchy production and Smith’s awkward rhymes to the point that they become unlistenable. But even their singles8212;the tracks that are supposed to move this album8212;are weak. “Buzzin” is an empty-headed tune about how much the ladies love Shwayze, and “Corona and Lime” is about how much Shwayze loves the ladies. This is a great record to use as background noise because it never changes its tone, and as long as you’re not paying too much attention it sounds like something that might be good.

The Rosewood Thieves
“Rise & Shine”

This band takes photographs of itself in front of vintage instruments and amplifiers from those golden days of rock, but their commitment to the decade of Woodstock and its aesthetic is much deeper than press pictures. This is a sound8212;for better or for worse8212;with roots directly in the fertile soil of the folk and rock music of the ’60s and ’70s. For most of the album things hum along with considerable energy and creativity8212;”She Don’t Mind the Rain,” “Moon Song” and “Silver Gun” are real standouts. There are a few misses, and occasionally the vintage production puts a premium on tired-sounding musky roughness over simple clarity, to the detriment of the record. But on the whole, Rise & Shine is an excellent tribute to the decade it so lovingly emulates, and a good set of songs all on its own.

Lil’ Dap
“I.A. Dap”

This is a re-debut for Lil’ Dap, who in the late ’90s formed half of the NY-based duo Group Home and released two respectable albums with his partner in crime, Melachi the Nutcracker. He spent the last couple of years putting this new album together, and his efforts have paid off in a big way. The sound, from Lil’ Dap’s low growl to the bassy funk samples, is 100 percent grade-A New York hip-hop. Don’t expect radio play or flashy videos from this album, but come prepared to relive the ’90s in grand, gritty New York style.

The Game

LAX is half what you’d expect from a summertime west-coast album: slick jams with soulful samples and verses about the heat, chrome and money. But the other half is very unsummerlike: darker, harder and often introspective. The contrast hardly fazes anyone on this album. The Game and his producers switch it up effortlessly, and while it’d be reaching to say that they break serious new ground, it’d be lying to say they haven’t produced an album that’s extremely solid. On “State of Emergency,” “Angel” and “Letter to the King,” the standouts of this album, it even reaches brilliance.