#NerdSwag [Reviews]: Step Brothers / Zion I / Ray West & O.C.

  •  THE MASTERS OF CEREMONY – Keeping it Cali, this hip-hop parish will now take you from LA to the Bay, where we enter the aisle of Zion I. Rather than sit around and complain about the current state of hip-hop (like this Monsignor did when Macklemore beat Kendrick at the Grammy’s), these nearly 18-year veterans have decided to drop a series of EP’s that hope to “fortify the cultural aspects of hip-hop.” What makes The Masters of Ceremony unique in comparison to other positive rap acts — and certainly anything else that comes out of the Bay — is AmpLive‘s rasta/ragga-tinged baselines. Three of the five songs scream more Major Lazer than E-40; and when they don’t, the “Supreme” funk and echoing drums of “Thin Ice” (via Kno of CunninLynguists) will sling closer to Supeme Clientele and ATLiens. MC Zumbi certainly shines most on “Fresh,” chopping his flow to match the track’s jazzy, magnetic synths. Stay tuned. 3.5/5.
"Sure has that Starbucks smell to it, huh?"
“Sure has that Starbucks smell to it, huh?”
  • RAY’S CAFE – Who is Ray West? I honestly had no idea up until today; but, the name O.C. will get me to listen, so long as it isn’t those bratty shits from Laguna. Ray’s Cafe is the summer album for the winter, music you listen to when you long for those days down Ocean Drive or, hell, Laguna Beach. The always steady and recently revitalized emcee (check Trophies with production stalwart Apollo Brown), O.C., paints pictures of steak-burgers, smiles and babes, all while even those holding court on the Left Coast are wearing multiple layers. The song titles should give you enough indication of what this EP is all about: “Have Fun”, “Soul Kitchen”, and “Lovers”. With Ray West‘s vibrant 70s soul and jazzy snares, this is the Arrested Development album you wanted without all the politics (especially on the string-plucking finale, “Gotta Luv It”). AG even replaces his fellow DITC partner for a few healthy bars on “Go Back.” So, whether you’re “grown folk or youngin,” take a stroll back in time with all the delight of Ray’s Cafe. 3.25/5.

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