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Reviews Written by
Ted Frost (London)

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Born Like This.
Born Like This.
Price: £6.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good to hear Doom again, 7 July 2009
This review is from: Born Like This. (Audio CD)
A pretty great album. I think 2 things hold it back from being brilliant and both are only under par by MF's standards. Firstly, what one previous reviewer said about the rhymes not having any character may be true. Sometimes the relentless spitting gets slightly repetitive, if still very impressive. (Incidentally, that same reviewer cited VV2 as the worst example of lack of character and I couldn't disagree more: it's my favourite non-self produced album of his).

Secondly, and by far the biggest crutch. I have been surprised by the support for Jake One as a producer. I hadn't heard of him and looked up his producing credits. Seeing production for G-Unit didn't fill me with anticipation, even though I have never listened to their stuff. In reality, he didn't exceed my expectations. If you listen to the album, it is quite clear that the least inventive/exciting tracks are those by JakeOne. I think by any other standards they would be very good beats, but when contrasted against Doom, Dilla and Madlib, they make the album seem under par. I know the album would be very short without them, but I would prefer it like Take Me to Your Leader than this, with some slightly overlong skits with Doom beats over them than this. I know that would mean missing out on his great flows but I don't think he sounds as smooth or inspired over these beats as over the rest.

Otherwise, the album is fantastic, and I am just slightly disappointed he fell into the trap of trying to put a bit of filler in, albeit pretty dope filler.

The Adventures of Augie March (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Adventures of Augie March (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Saul Bellow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.69

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bellow's genius manages to shine through the laboured language, 1 July 2009
The style of this novel was quite off-putting after reading more elegant and accomplished later works such as Ravelstein and Humboldt's gift. The usual old attempts to get 'behind' or create new types of language; being deliberately contradictory by describing things as 'black', not in terms of colour but by some alternative definition - these are things I find difficult to get past.
Ultimately, though, as with truly great writers, Bellow's idiosyncratic and truly unique characters and organic narrative flow rise this book above those early attempts at literary over-originality and, while not as good as Humboldt's Gift, this is a truly fascinating story, setting up many of Bellow's later pre-occupations e.g. the pre-occupation with Chicago underworld life; the narrator's fascination with powerful older men.

Hip Hop Is Dead
Hip Hop Is Dead
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £5.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Damn Good, 18 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Hip Hop Is Dead (Audio CD)
Only giving the 3 stars as I'm not that big a fan of mainstream-type hip-hop and do not want to encourage the type of production that goes with this territory.

Otherwise; a pretty great album. Not anticipating this, the Will I Am beats were fantastic, 'Hip Hop is Dead' and 'Can't Forget About You' are some classics. Other great tracks on the album but was ultimately let down by a few mediocre tracks such as 'Carry on the Tradition' and Carry on Tradition'.

Rappers of Nas's standard should take note of this: a few slighlty less than dope tracks can prevent what could otherwise be a classic. Therefore; keep an album down to the bare minimum of absolute classics rather than trying to appease a few mediocre beat makers. A lot of indie dudes have taken this lesson on board and hip-hop could take this on board to gain a bit more respect.

Otherwise, a pretty class album.

More Fish (Clean)
More Fish (Clean)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More and almost as good Fish, 18 Jun. 2008
This review is from: More Fish (Clean) (Audio CD)
Not too disappointed with this. Main thing this had going against it was that Raekwon was not on it. People might think that was not such an issue on a Ghostface album but, his contribution has been possibly the most important on any of Ghostface's albumns beside Rza's.

Besides this; it is a pretty hot album and has plenty of dope beats. I particularly prefer the solo Ghost tracks as there are no Theodore Unit freaks to mess it up. Case in point is Alex (Stolen Script).

Worth a fiver if it's going for that as it was when I bought it, but not quite of the quality of Fishscale.

I'Ll Sleep When You'Re Dead
I'Ll Sleep When You'Re Dead

4.0 out of 5 stars Still Under Consideration - But Brilliant so far, 9 July 2007
I'm at the stage with this album whereby I think it's pretty much a classic but I could end up losing interest soon. The real test is whether I get that hit a couple of months in where I listen to it once at find something even more spectacular about it.

So far I love it: the extended, prog-rock beats and electronics/noises of all descriptions. My favourites are probably the first track, last and many of the others in between. It's a lot easier to say which tracks I don't find 100% great. Flyentology has a slightly monotonous and boring beat which doesn't quite seem as dark or deep as some of his other tracks but it's still pretty good.

I bought this quite soon after getting Fantastic Damage and am currently in a sort of EL-P mode which could mean I'm a little biased but this is definitely worth a listen.

Maths and English
Maths and English
Price: £3.75

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good, 5 July 2007
This review is from: Maths and English (Audio CD)
All I will say is, despite many reviews in the press, this cannot compete with 'Showtime' for pure depth of emotion and consistency.

Some great tracks on here but, maybe it's because I'm not so into house music (although I do love the Summertime one) but it doesn't really seem to hold together. I'll allow him the gimmicky Lily Allen one as he had 'Dreams' on his last album and didn't let it ruin the whole concept, but the Artic Monkey's track doesn't quite work.

Sort of going back to 'Boy in Da Corner' in the way it is pretty sketchy but with some great tracks like 'Pussyole', 'Where's Da Gs', 'Sirens' and Bubble.

Worth a listen but not quite the step forward I was hoping for

Offered by wantitcheaper
Price: £6.97

5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 5 July 2007
This review is from: Desire (Audio CD)
Ok. No need to get angry. If I liked P Diddy I would hardly even know of Pharoahe Monch, what is this about blags? My review was not disparaging, just a little critical. Much props to Pharoahe nonetheless.
Real Hip Hop: Criminal Minded, It Takes a Nation, Critical Beatdown, Straight Out The Jungle, Midnight Marauders, Lethal Injection, Return of the Boom Bap, Enter the 36 Chambers, Ironman, Funcrusher Plus, Operation Doomsday, Showtime etc.

Once again I feel cheated by the media. I knew Pharoahe was a great MC and so, when I heard he had made a great album, I believed it. Albeit I hadn't heard any of his stuff since 'Organized Konfusion', I was suprised at the lack of innovation on this album.

One cannot fault his lyrical skills. I haven't heard him spit a whack rhyme, but this is not enough to earn critical acclaim in my book.

For a start, having beats made by The Alchemist seems a capitulation to sub-standard, run-of-the-mill beats. I don't know much of his work except that I think he made some of Busta Rhymes' worst records, on Anarchy. I could check my facts and find that I'm wrong, but, for the sake of this review, I feel the Pharoahe is another MC like Busta who limits himself by those he works with and the scope of his projects.

This album feels like it is a copy of something half-decent that was made about five years ago. The beats are so derivative - like a half-assed copy of Common's 'Electric Circus' (which was already overblown with its alternative credentials and rock-star ambtition).

We can see Pharoahe's range and lyrical skill all over this album - and his depth - and yet, he falls back to tired beats and over produced vocals. This is my main problem. Pharoahe should be able to carry an album by himself and yet he makes this a side project with a host of R&B singers who sterilise his soul and message and prevent a true outpouring of his own emotions. The only part of a recent newspaper review I would agree with is that he should probably utilise his own voice more as - raw as it is - it still has heart and soul.

To conclude, this album is only disappointing as I know quite little of Pharoahe and was hoping for something more inspiring from such a fascinating lyricist and performer. As with Kool Keith or MF Doom, he needs to find an appropriate, innovative and underground sound to complement his flow (kool keith has found it with Dan the Automator and Insomniac Records and Doom has always had it on tap anyway).

I still enjoy and listen to it but find it hard to appreciate something that is not much more than mediocre.

A Fanny Full of Soap: The Story of a West End Musical
A Fanny Full of Soap: The Story of a West End Musical
by Nichola McAuliffe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Rollercoaster Ride, 22 Jun. 2007
I absolutely adored this book! From the start I was pulled into the story by the relentless pace of the narrative. The narrator seems a little unhinged but extremely sympathetic and witty.

What suprised me the most was the dramatic depth achieved and I truly felt for her travails. The stage antics and charicatures were fascinating and I felt I had really experienced this actor's life.

Looking forward to her next book!

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