Saturday, August 15, 2009

Summer School REVIEW: MИWKA presents NINJASONIK Darth Baño

First I want to thank Sonya for the opportunity to share my opinion on anything, I check The Glass House daily and find it a privilege to be asked to contribute to its ongoing mission. My first assignment is to Review the "MИWKA presents Darth Baño" mixtape which you can find here, but keep reading to see if its worth your time. The Glass House Rating System is really relevant with the start of school weeks or depending on your district days away, I studied long and hard so you can advance to the next grade level musically.

Now to the matter at hand, MИWKA presents Darth Baño mixtape. This tapes opening salvo features a clip from the Liam Neeson's Action Thriller Taken, then launches into the Darth Vader Theme sampled beat, (Liam Neeson does star in Episode One of Star Wars as Obi Won Kenobi's Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn) , which is clever yet odd considering the Star Wars themed cover art. Does Episode one contain any line as menacing as the one lifted from the excellent Taken? Maybe but let us save that for another post. This then leads into the Dance influenced "It's OK" and rolls on into the rest of this musical journey led by Baño . This journey features familiar Hip Hop locals such a Money, Clothes, Hoes. Yeah but less misogynist but misogynist none the less. "NoFunForUglyGirls" is lead by the aptly titled "NoFunForUglyGirls Intro" on which Bano recounts an encounter with a young lady he met through the microblogging site twitter. While making valid observations it is somewhat unnecessary but it does provide for a terrific lead for its successor. The minimal beat and altered voice effect is reminiscent of some of Baltimore's Club Music and that provided me with a bit of comfort on this journey. Not only does this mine the very familiar themes of Hip Hop it travels through time, several tracks have beats straight from the early days of Hip Hop with that Boom Bap, "Danger" being one track that even warns their home borough BX " You better watchout, you better watchout". "Tight Pants Poppin'" clearly a nod to the current Hipster fashion trend is full of energy and seems to fly by but is followed by the equally energetic "Sip Some of This".

Now what does all this add up to, mining already well worn themes can be dangerous for any artist but what sets one artist apart from any other is what you do with what you find. Anyone can pull a rough diamond from the ground but how you cut polish and set the stone is what matters. To begin with this diamond is Conflict Free, no one died or lost a limb to get this stone out of the earth. So from that point it is already different than any other records, unlike most mainstream Hip Hop it comes from a different place, not the Ultra Macho Super violent Drug Addicted Country of Corporate Radio. The only people who will be killed in the making of this diamond might be wack rappers. You can listen to this guilt free knowing that the world will be rid of one more wack rapper. Now to the similarities in theme, the Money, Clothes Hoes I mentioned earlier. Well they aren't coming from the Materialistic, All about me, Macho place everyone else is launching there records from, it still features the braggadocios that is at the core of Hip Hop (and necessary to be a good MC) . The use of the Money Clothes and Hoes is cut different, the playful "NoFunForUglyGirls" is not new to Hip Hop just severely lacking and that makes it ok, in spite of the misogyny (mostly due to the use of the word "Bitch" in the proceeding track). The clothing label name dropping that turns most songs into a commercial for New York Fashion week is absent and not missed at all. The "Tight Pants Poppin'" could have easily been filled with every denim manufacturer to turn out a pair of jeans since time began but it doesn't. Money is alway linked to what I bought and how much I got but "My Kids Can't Eat No Fame" turns that inside out. Clarity is achieved with these cuts and gives you a radiance not seen in most of the cloudy off color jewels pushed on you by Corporate Radio. Now as to the color, this diamond is blue"ish" usually found in the best diamonds increasing their value significantly. So what is the weight of this diamond, its Carats, the last of the C's used to judge diamonds. This is tough because it depends on what you value, I like heavy lyrics that are fun, clever and witty. If you like to "crank that" or "birthday sex" then this may be too big and not to your liking I would suggest something smaller.

So will this release be accompanying you to the next grade this fall, did it pass this Summer Session based on The Glass House rating system:

Category I: Artistry
Darth Bano, Hmmm? While other Rappers have used Star Wars imagery, not many don Jedi robes and Light Sabers on the cover of there mixtapes (Real or Cartoons). Bano is putting his own twist on the current look that dominates the hipster fashion with fishing vest and four finger rings. The uninitiated may think its all the same but there is a more street element to what he is doing and coming from the Bronx that is to be expected. Swag isn't an issue, Bano has it. The Bronx toughness shines through skinny jeans, fishing vest and all. Don't sleep, Hipsters can be tough guys too. Grade: B+ (3.49)

Category II: Wordplay
Did he just say... Is something I don't find myself saying to often when I listen to a lot of rap music. "Jump up out my Bed, Turn my Swag on" is not going to have you rewinding at all, Sorry Sonya I know how you dig that song on a nice sound system, MИWKA presents Darth Baño has plenty of let me hear that again moment. These aren't your basic rhymes being spirt here, plenty of metephors, similies and clever wordplay. "...crushing y'all niggas like a project roach..." - Darth Bano Intro, most times projects are only filled with drug dealer (in reality they got roaches too). " Salty looks/ Im cutting out my sodium..." - Negative Thinking, gun play typically follows salty looks, I wasn't expecting a dietary recommendation. Grade: A (3.7)

Category III: Beat Chemistry
In this age of Corporate Radio with four producers dominating the airwaves it is amazing listing to this mixtape featuring six plus producers. Can one man find harmony with each one? Yes, is the correct answer. Never did I feel that Bano is out of his element, there were plenty of opportunities fr that to happen. Bano and this group of producers put together a collection of beats and rhymes that would trip up lesser rappers but he finds the pocket on each track and rides it effortlessly. Chemistry is hard to find with one person, but to share it with so many producers might give some people the wrong impression. Grade: A+ (4.0)

Category IV: Relativity Factor
With the current climate being what it is, Bano is on the fringe of the current crop of "Hipster" rappers currently raising there profiles via the blogosphere. Does he have "It" , yes the elusive "It". Bano has "Something", this effort fall into the "Something" category. What does that mean? Will those who are high on those who are on the verge look to Bano as a natural progression musically. Unfortunately, Not. This isn't a knock against him, just how the listening public will see him. They will get tired of the pretty girls and look for someone with personality (To all you pretty girls, I know you have personality. No one is attracted to it. it is why guys stay with you.). Bano has got that in spades but when a fresh new pretty face enters the room he will once again be shunned in favor of the fresh new pretty girl. It would take quite the effort for him to hold on to the hand of those fleeting listeners. Does he have it in him? Yes, and that is "Something". Grade: C+ (2.49)

1 comment:

K. Scribe said...

Nicely written review Greg, glad to have you on board!