The Yaper Gang returns with yet another offering. This time, it’s Owner’s Manual from Big Kahuna and El Chapo. Noticeable from the start is the more straightforward approach taken (you may remember the Lucky EP’s intriguing combination of “huh?” and “what?”) in regards to the subject matter, delivery, and production behind this 17 track project. Tough talk is the name of the game this go around, along with the usual women, weed, and vehicles; but that’s not to say that this is a project lacking in creativity. In fact, they still take it back to that Three 6 Mafia vibe with the DJ Smokey-produced “Don’t Talk,” and there are cool samples from a car advertisement campaign, I’m guessing from the 50’s or 60’s, that really do add to the feel of things and help them to carve their own lane. The exhausting aspect of all this is that things really never go beyond talks of money, shooters, smoking expensive weed, being gangster… I still really don’t know anything about these guys, and they really don’t give you any reason to want to know about them, since they feel like you should already know about them. Kahuna says, “This ain’t no trap music/nigga trap to it” on “Grand Scheme,” and while in principle I agree with that notion, due to some of the more middle-of-the-road sounding records, with all this gangsta stuff it’s hard not feel that way, being that most of today’s gangsta music IS trap music. So what’s the bottom line here? If you can get over the Yaper Gang’s inability to get over themselves, you will find a group of young guys who rhyme with potential, over some very well produced beats. Tracks like the aforementioned “Don’t Talk,” “Invincible,” and “Outro Bitch” make clear that they aren’t just confident, they’re serious about their craft, and to me this project was more than anything about immersing you in their world, whether it be fantasy or reality. I look forward to seeing what’s next and the growth that comes with it. Review, Bitch.
Chris Chris – NC-17 (Bandcamp)
If you say “album by a battle rapper” to a Hip-Hop head, the associated expectation in my experience is usually “great lyricist, bad song writer.” Chris Chris manages to defy expectation for the most part in the most vulgar of ways. As titled, the content is indeed mature. Drugs, curse words, aggression, sexual acts; he even has a song dedicated to people like me who are reviewing his product: “Fuck a Critic.” Anyway, let’s get to it. This is a wild ride. Chris Chris goes in aggressively on “Time Machine” (“I got more 16’s than 2 middle schools/with kids that failed twice…”), “Bad Meets Evil”-style on “Devil On My Shoulder,” tells a crazy story on “This Is War,” and focuses on lyricism on “Give Em A Hand,” which features Ronald Beasley, Antagonist Dragonspit, Misterelle, and a surprise verse from the son of ODB: Young Dirty Bastard. What’s very clear here is that Chris Chris wants you know that he wants to and will hurt you, but that doesn’t stop him from taking time to tell you about himself. Apparently a woman hurt this man, only fueling the fire that is the source of his incendiary remarks. This results in songs like “Boy & His Girl,” “Speak My Mind,” “Quicksand,” and “Let My Pen Talk.” It bears mentioning that, though Whop did a good job with his feature verses, I really couldn’t get into the two tracks he was on. I hope next time, assuming Chris Chris teams up with him again, he’ll place him on something more creative than the misogynistic “The Way They Made Me,” which is one of the moments where things slow down and you may find yourself skipping over a track or two. This is a solid showing of ability though, not only by Chris Chris, but also Silent Dave, who produced the entire project. If you are into old Eminem (I bet Chris Chris just broke a pencil at that comparison…) or looking for something from someone new with some wit that will give you a good laugh, then twist your face up with lyrics, look no further.