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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Major League Ent.

Mixtape Volume I - Straight Out Tha Dugout

Review by Gary Hill

These guys hail from the same part of the world as I do, the Northern Illinois area. Right around here there is a very vital hip hop community and these guys are just another act that serves as evidence to the fact that there is some quality stuff coming from that scene.

This CD is the first from the group and it rates pretty high. There are only a couple songs that I would have left out where I putting this thing together. Also, the disc seems to run a bit long after a while. I guess this is a mixed blessing. If you are really in the groove and enjoying it, it’s probably a bonus, but if you are perhaps not as tuned in at the moment it just feels a bit tedious towards the end.

If you are interested in checking out the group there are a number of myspace sites where the music is being played. I don’t think they have one central site, but each member of the group has their own. Three myspace sites are listed as sources for the disc  – Stax (www.myspace.com/blazintraksproductions), Chris Style (myspace.com/chrisstylemajorleague) and Scottie Pimpin (www.myspace.com/scottiepimpin815). Alternately they say that you can email Stax at blazintraks@yahoo.com or Style at 1stso0maj0r@gmail.com. It might be a little hard to get (well at least take a little work) but the disc is worth it. Although, it should be noted that (like much rap) if you have a problem with vulgar language or strong themes it would probably be best to pick up something else.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Intro
With some swirling keyboard type textures we get a truth in advertising deal – because this essentially introduces us to the players – isn’t that what something called “Intro” should do.       

48 Bars
This is the one clunker on the CD. It’s not that the rap is bad, but frankly, the music on the song is too stripped down and seriously bass heavy – to the point of being a bit hard to listen to. It actually seems to clip a bit from the overly low toned sounds. It’s a shame because it seems like it could be a strong song with a different arrangement.

Blaze It Up
The rap on this is quite strong. I like the way they trade it off. The music has a great groove to it. I guess my only complaint would be how many songs do we need with a chorus about being “in the club?” I mean, these guys don’t have a ton of them, but it seems a clichéd a concept in hip hop as “let’s rock” is in hard rock circles.
Money Right
This has a great musical texture to it and some strong raps. It’s a slower piece and feels quite sad in a lot of ways. We get some sound bites from a movie in this and some of the most effective musical moments. This really has a lot emotion in it.
Tell Me
A higher energy jam, I like this one a lot, too. I have to say that the chorus really reminds me of “Ridin’” by Chamillionaire. Multilayered vocals on this one are a nice touch.
Before
I love the “string” section on this and the chorus is very catchy.
Movement
The string type sounds on “Movement” and the killer rap (and message) all lead to making it another standout.
Dream
The music that starts this off could have you thinking you’ve wound up in the middle of a progressive rock CD. They build the rap and the whole groove of this song on symphonically styled slow moving piece of sound.
Everday
The arrangement on this is a little more stripped down, but the flow of the rap really steals the show anyway. It’s a cool track.

They Don’t Want None
There’s a cool “whistling” keyboard sound on this and the rap is quite strong.

Get It Crackin
This has more energy than some of the stuff and a multilayered arrangement. It’s another that’s quite catchy. I like it a lot.

My Homies
A slower groove this is good but not really a standout.

Spaceship
This is without question one of the highlights of the disc. It’s a smooth groove and is quite catchy. The music is pretty and the rap flows really well.

Inside the Mind
The song takes us on a look inside the head of some school shooter. I’m sure there are those out there who will accuse this song of “glorifying” violence. The truth is, though, I hear it more as trying to shine a light on the type of thought process and emotional scars that lead to this type of violence. In truth, only by understanding what causes someone to do something like that can you work at the root issues to prevent further incidents of that nature. It’s a powerful piece of music.

Love For Me
The music on the introduction here feels almost like something from Enya. This gives way to a more typical hip hop beat. This is one that’s good, but not really a standout. Here’s where the disc seems like it might be a little too long. Of course, part of that is because the last couple songs were so strong that just about anything would feel like a bit of a let down.

Let’s Get It
This is a bouncy rap. It’s another that kind of suffers from being too late in the disc. Honestly, if this were one of the earlier tracks it would feel a lot stronger. It just by this point it’s starting to drag a little.

Bonus Track
Another cool rap, this one is actually a bit stronger than the last couple tracks. It’s got a catchy chorus and a bouncing sort of texture. It brings things back up a bit.

Spaceship Remix
The second (and final) bonus track, this is a remix of one of the strongest cuts on show here. Frankly, I like the original version much better than this one. I would probably have left this one off as I think the female vocal added to it actually weakens the number quite a bit rather than augmenting it. If it weren’t for the fact that is basically a bonus I’d consider it the other clunker on show here. It’s a shame because the normal version was so strong.

 
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