November 15, 2019

Brutal Truth - Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses (1992) ☠

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Deathgrind
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1992 Earache/Relativity Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
Brutal Truth's debut stands as one of the first full-length albums to take the prototypical grindcore of pre-'90s Napalm Death and integrate the sound into a collection of songs with enough variety to function well as a reasonably diverse album. The group obviously bring more than just grindcore to the table on Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses, with some hints of noisy hardcore punk and slower forms of heavy metal. Most songs last a few minutes and move through a few shifts, peaking with small explosions of sound. The better songs stray from this fairly generic template, beginning with "Birth of Ignorance," a song that takes growling vocals to new extremes. Here, vocalist Kevin Sharpe blows you back a bit with his guttural voice during the song's rather catchy chorus, which acts as a sort of call-and-response between the deep voice of Sharpe and the high-pitched screams of bassist Dan Lilker. Another song, "Walking Corpse," integrates the banshee vocal explosions of Napalm Death's "You Suffer" into an actual song, using this brief moment of apocalyptic intensity for a powerful chorus. Another standout song, "Time," reverses the formula, slowing down the song's pace to a lumbering tempo for six minutes of slow, grinding sound and wonderfully demonic singing. And of course, there are the brief, ear-piercing explosions of "Collateral Damage" and "Blockhead." Though the successive album, Need to Control, stands as this New York band's best release, Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses remains one of the best grindcore albums of the '90s, setting new precedents for the niche style. [Earache reissued Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses with bonus tracks, among them Brutal Truth's cover of Black Sabbath's "Lord of This World."]

tags: brutal truth, extreme conditions demand extreme responses, 1992, flac,

Brutal Truth - Kill Trend Suicide (1996)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Grindcore
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© 1996 Relapse Records
AllMusic Review by Marc van der Pol
Kill Trend Suicide is a bit of a disappointment, especially since it's the follow-up the outstanding Need to Control. Brutal riffs and finely crafted chugging rhythms have been replaced by bland and high-strung guitar work that seems to serve only as an antithesis to the staple blasting drum patterns. The variety and creativity has taken a hiatus from the band, who now appear happy to play plain ol' grindcore and nothing more.

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Blood For Blood - Outlaw Anthems (2002)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Heavy Hardcore
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© 2002 Victory Records
AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano
Outlaw Anthems is the supposed final studio recording from the vicious hardcore group Blood for Blood. None of their previous anger or offensiveness is sacrificed here; it is straight, hard-edged punk aimed directly at their rabid fan base.

tags: blood for blood, outlaw anthems, 2002, flac,

November 14, 2019

Susanna Hoffs - When You're a Boy (1991)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Pop Rock, Pop
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© 1991 Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by Tim Griggs
Susanna Hoffs has a slight voice, but she knows how to use it. Unfortunately most of the songs on her solo debut release are also slight and there's no good way to get around inferior music. Although the album was released in 1991, it sounds like bad mid-'80s music. Hoffs and the Bangles had a few catchy pop ditties; however, there are none to be found here.

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Susanna Hoffs - Susanna Hoffs (1996) ☠

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Pop Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1996 London Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Delivered five years after her botched solo debut, Susanna Hoffs' eponymous second album is a remarkably accomplished and catchy collection of mature jangle-pop, power-pop and ballads. Combining originals with well-chosen covers like the Lightning Seeds' "All I Want," the album is an infectious and engaging set of melodic pop that also happens to be Hoffs' most introspective and personal record to date. The combination of sweet melodies and reflective songwriting makes Susanna Hoffs a remarkable artistic comeback from a performer that many would have thought was past her prime.

tags: susanna hoffs, susanna hoffs album, 1996, flac,

Susanna Hoffs - Someday (2012) ☠

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Pop Rock, Folk
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2012 Baroque Folk
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra
Since the release of her last solo album in 1996, Susanna Hoffs has stayed busy with the re-formed Bangles for two albums and recording two albums of covers with her friend Matthew Sweet. The covers albums were nostalgic exercises and the Bangles albums were decent enough; the most recent one, 2011's Sweetheart of the Sun, even had some moments that nearly captured the feel of the band's earliest recordings. Judging from what she's been up to over the past 15 years, it would seem the most one could expect from a Hoffs solo album would be something nice but not much more than that. Surprisingly then, Someday ends up being some of the best music Hoffs has been associated with. Working with Nashville musician Andrew Brassell and producer Mitchell Froom, Hoffs creates an intimate and sweet album that frames her tender vocals with subtle arrangements that trade the jangle of the Bangles for an autumnally rich chamber pop sound. Strings, horns, even clarinets fill the spaces around her unassuming melodies and gently strummed guitars. Hoffs sounds relaxed and peaceful throughout the album; unlike on her previous solo work, it doesn't sound like she's desperately looking for a hit. That's not to say the songs are in any way not completely catchy and filled with hooks; they are, and most of the album would fit in perfectly on an adult-oriented radio station. Hoffs and Brassell write easily hummable choruses and punchy little pop songs. "Picture Me" bops along like a bruised Dusty Springfield song, "Raining" (a song she first started writing in 1989 with Heartbreaker Mike Campbell) is an insistent jangle pop heartbreaker with a lovely chorus, "This Is the Place" chugs along happily with a distant horn section punctuating Hoffs' sweet words of love. The ballads are nice, too -- Hoffs isn't the most expressive singer ever but she can wring some emotion out of simple melodies (with lots of help from Froom's very expressive arrangements). And the little crack in her voice she uses now and then works like a magic charm. In fact, the entire album has a low-key magic that is made all the more powerful by being such an unexpected treat. It's pretty rare that someone would make the best record of her career so far into it; Hoffs has done it, though, and Someday is an album perfect for not only her fans, but also fans of well-crafted, emotionally true adult pop.

tags: susanna hoffs, someday, some day, 2012, flac,

Agnostic Front - Warriors (2007)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hardcore
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© 2007 Nuclear Blast Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Some may argue that Agnostic Front's tenth studio album, 2007's Warriors, sounds like just another day at the office for joint CEOs, vocalist Roger Miret and Vinnie Stigma, and their suitably tattooed subordinates. But when a band has been this successful at the business of producing classic, crossover hardcore ass-kickings for their loyal consumers, well, outside observers may just want to keep their mouths shut and be thankful that their own jobs cover health insurance -- it could come in handy if they cross the wrong person here. Such is life at Agnostic Front Public Works, Inc.: a not-for-profit organization (get it? the band has never seen a cent for their efforts) devoted to all sorts of social activism ("Outrage," "We Want the Truth"), community services ("For my Family," "All These Years"), and a few tough love lessons about the code of the street ("Black and Blue," "Revenge") mixed in for good measure (no one likes a goody two shoes). At times, the band's approach may even seem a little too preachy, with impassioned entreaties like "Change Your Ways," "Forgive Me, Mother," and opener "Addiction" (where the band shouts "Save yourself!" to all who will listen) adding up to a veritable roll call of public service announcements. Heck, all that's missing is a bonus video of Miret asking "It's ten o'clock...do you know where your children are?" -- and that'll probably crop up on their next album. All kidding aside, though, at least Agnostic Front are focusing on largely positive and empowering messages versus the prevalent pessimism of yesteryear. And since, musically speaking, they've also stopped straying from the violent simplicity that's always served them best, the future still looks bright for the Agnostic Front corp., and, by extension, the entire NYHC industry.

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Agnostic Front - My Life My Way (2011)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hardcore
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© 2011 Nuclear Blast Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Lymangrover
After nearly 30 years of recording, longtimers Vinnie Stigma and Roger Miret continue to run the show, along with return bassist Mike Gallo and new recruits Joseph James (guitar) and Pokey Mo (drums). Agnostic Front have survived various lineup changes and flirted with a few musical styles (namely metal) since their early days as New York hardcore pioneers. But from the third quarter of their career on, they have stayed consistent, blending thrash, metalcore, and Oi! styles. Madball/Cannibal Corpse producer Erik Rutan brings out the finer traits of all three styles for My Life My Way, while simultaneously making the band sound as big and heavy as sonically possible. Roger Miret's distinctive vocals -- which are delivered in more of a yowl than a growl -- are straining but remain powerful, and even (gasp!) melodic at times. Other than the occasional big hook, there are only a few departures from the usual steady riffing. “A Mi Manera” is sung entirely in Spanish, and the killer cut “That’s Life” revives the haphazard fury of the early years in under a minute-twenty, as Miret yells “Who fucking cares!?” Agnostic Front's devoted fan base, that's who.

tags: agnostic front, my life my way, 2001, flac,

Matthew Sweet - Girlfriend (1991) ☠

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Alternative Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1991 Zoo Entertainment
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Matthew Sweet's third album is a remarkable artistic breakthrough. Grounded in the guitar pop of the Beatles, Big Star, Byrds, R.E.M., and Neil Young, Girlfriend melds all of Sweet's influences into one majestic, wrenching sound that encompasses both the gentle country-rock of "Winona" and the winding guitars of the title track and "Divine Intervention." Sweet's music might have recognizable roots, but Girlfriend never sounds derivative; thanks to his exceptional songwriting, the album is a fresh, original interpretation of a classic sound.

tags: matthew sweet, girlfriend, girl friend, 1991, flac,

Nirvana - Sub Pop Sessions (2002)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Grunge
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© 2002 Tupelo Recording Company
*No professional reviews available for this release.

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November 13, 2019

Onslaught - VI (Limited Edition) (2013)

*Contains 10 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Thrash Metal
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© 2013 AFM Records
Review by Eric May for New Noise Magazine.com
After crushing my eardrums with 2011’s Sounds Of Violence, these UK heavyweights are at again with another helping of uncompromising death-metal influenced thrash metal. “Chaos Is King” knocks it out of the park from the very beginning, showcasing new drummer Mic Mourihan’s machine-gun blasts and Sy Keeler’s scathing, yet true to form vocal prowess. Then Nige Rockett and Andy Rosser-Davies bring forth thick plated riffs and insurmountable solos. And that’s just the first track! Future songs offer thundering anthems (66’Fuckin’6, Enemy Of My Enemy) and the same amount of piss (fuck the vinegar) that you’d expect from thrash. “Slaughterize” is one of the best thrash tracks I’ve heard in years, and has an extremely powerful and catchy chorus that will make it stand out from the very beginning. “Fuel For My Fire” takes a completely different turn, adding some keyboard and power metal influence to the mix, but it doesn’t kill the formula for me. “Children Of The Sand” features Middle-eastern influenced riffs in addition to the element of female vocal chants, so it might be a bit much for some; but I didn’t seem all that bothered by it and it was still plenty heavy.
While Sounds Of Violence certainly had a lot more death metal influence than this one, I certainly can’t say that this is a thrash album worth passing on, and that score I’ve given it further asserts that fact. If you like your thrash to be exponentially heavy and without signs of remorse, then you’ll definitely need to get your hands on this one. It’s disc that essentially just comes off as a “badass thrash album” and as blunt as that might sound, you won’t help but be able to feel the same way once you’ve heard it. Onslaught continues to showcase what thrash metal should sound like this day and age. It’s fueled with the steroids of death and black metal influence; but is still able to remain true to the genre’s roots. VI is One of the best thrash albums of the year, hands down. Look out, Testament. They’re coming for you. (Eric May)

tags: onslaught, vi, limited edition, 2013, flac,

Agnostic Front - Dead Yuppies (2001)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hardcore
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© 2001 Epitaph
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson
By the time of this, their third release for Epitaph Records, Agnostic Front was entering their third decade together. It's more than impressive for a punk outfit to last so long -- it's nearly a miracle. Not quite a miraculous collection, Dead Yuppies lacks the immediacy of Agnostic Front's best work. There are enough good moments, however, to outshine the many Generation-X upstarts and also-rans. At first glance, Dead Yuppies projects the image of an Agnostic Front who's living in the past. The choruses are familiar, and even the term "yuppie" sounds a little dated. In the days of this release, it was the high-tech professionals and dot-bomb dreamers rubbing all the underground class warriors the wrong way. So the names might have changed, but that didn't concern Agnostic Front, as the message remained the same. Tracks like "Out of Reach" and "Politician" are staunch reiterations of 20-year themes, like the value of personal freedom, middle-class angst, and the mistrust of the power elite. Familiar in every way, Dead Yuppies will neither disappoint nor astonish fans of Agnostic Front's classic hardcore identity.

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Agnostic Front - Another Voice (2004)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hardcore
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© 2004 Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewed by Cory for Lamb Goat.com
Rising from the mean streets of New York City in 1983, Agnostic Front have blazed a trail that literally thousands of bands have followed in the last twenty years. They are among the first real "hardcore" bands ever conceived and among the last men standing of that long-bygone era. They've had their share of success and failure, appreciation and scorn. Two decades after the release of their genre-defining classic Victim in Pain, Agnostic Front has brought us their eleventh studio recording Another Voice, an attempt to prove their continued viability in an ever-changing hardcore scene. With Roger Miret having let out his punk rock urges on the Disasters' albums, AF have recreated themselves in their own image: as a tough-guy NYHC band. While I can't say I'm blown away by the results of this musical rebirth, it's definitely a step in a positive direction.

I had planned on holding my major complaint about this disc until after I had discussed the positive, but as I listen to this disc time and again, it's the thing that sticks out most to me: the vocals. While I've never been a huge fan of Miret's stylings, they are unbearable on this disc. He sounds more like Dave Brockie's costumed counterpart Oderus Urungus (of GWAR) than any sort of hardcore singer I've ever heard. The only hardcore fan I can imagine these vocals appealing to are those who can stomach 25 Ta Life. I suppose it's respectable that Miret is still going strong after all these years, but his attempt at adapting his vocals to their more current style makes this album an unpleasant listening experience out of an otherwise enjoyable album.

While I can't really complain about the musical content of the disc, there is a certain curious irony at work here. For this record, Agnostic Front seem to have been influenced heavily by the bands they themselves influenced. The hand of producers Zeuss and Jamey Jasta is all over this record. Joining AF veterans Vinnie Stigma and Miret are Mike and Steve Gallo of On The Rise. This addition may have something to do with the band's newfound sound as well, but Miret and former guitarist Matt Henderson were behind all the songwriting for the disc. Honestly, if this record had surfaced with Jamey Jasta's vocals on it, I would've believed it was a Hatebreed record minus the pseudo-metal riffs. Jasta does contribute vocals, alongside hardcore legends Karl Buechner of Earth Crisis and Scott Vogel of Buried Alive, Despair and Terror.

The songs are relatively formulaic and the lyrics aren't anything to brag about, but I don't think it's fair to fault Agnostic Front for sounding a lot like an updated version of classic New York hardcore. They did invent it after all. I was a bit disappointed to know that with over fifty years collectively of hardcore living under their belt, Miret and Co. weren't able to offer any sage-like words of wisdom or personal insight to those who carry the torch of hardcore in 2005.

Anyone who's ever heard a record Zeuss produced should know essentially what this sounds like. Some of the usual thickness has been peeled away to let AF's punk rock roots shine through, but other than that, the metalcore double bass click and Hatebreed-esque guitar tone dominate this album.

Bottom Line: It was nice to see that guys who invented hardcore are still interested in keeping it going and contributing to its future, but this record just didn't match up to the classics. If it weren't for the vocals, this disc would've been a much more welcome addition to my music collection. I still recommend this for die-hard Agnostic Front fans and people who aren't easily turned off by terrible vocals, but I can't say a whole lot more.

tags: agnostic front, another voice, 2004, flac,

Jungle Brothers - V.I.P. (1999)

*U.S. pressing. Contains 13 tracks total. 
A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1999 V2/Gee Street
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
By the time the Jungle Brothers signed with Gee Street, there was a full decade between them and the days of artistic freedom and respect from critics and discerning hip-hop fans. Seeking a creative rebirth, they hooked up with British producer Alex Gifford of big beat dance group the Propellerheads -- who'd actually sought out the J.Beez first to appear on their own album. The Jungle Brothers had embraced contemporary dance music right from the start, and their groundbreaking collaboration with Todd Terry, "I'll House You," gave them a lasting credibility in dance circles. The result of the team-up, V.I.P., pretty much gives up on appealing to the masses or the purists, instead setting their sights on dance-music fans who enjoy hip-hop as well. And if you aren't expecting a return to the sounds and attitudes of the J.Beez's glory years, V.I.P. is fun, funky, and infectious -- a party record where everyone sounds like they're having a blast. They try a little of everything, making for a pretty eclectic mix: the slamming big beat title track, a straight-up house groove on "Get Down," the blues pastiche of "Playing for Keeps," gonzo experiments in "Party Goin' On" and "JBeez Rock the Dancehall," and some cheerfully over-the-top love-man schtick on "Sexy Body" and "Freakin' You." Plus, there are a few reminiscences of hip-hop back in the day and hints of techno and drum'n'bass sprinkled throughout. Truth be told, the Jungle Brothers were never the most virtuosic MCs in the Native Tongues, and their rhymes can sound a little simplistic here -- not just because it's 2000, but they also tend to lay back when Gifford's grooves take over the show. Plus, a few cuts are a little too long, making V.I.P. a qualified success. But even so, it's still pretty difficult to resist.

tags: jungle brothers, vip, v.i.p., 1999, flac,

Various Artists - The Best Man: Music From The Motion Picture (1999)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop, R&B
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© 1999 Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
An African-American romantic comedy provides the forum for this various-artists album, which presents 14 state-of-the-art examples of contemporary mainstream R&B. The complicated rhythm tracks percolate along at slow-to-medium tempos, and the choruses are sung by vocal groups over which the elastic voices of the featured artists wail expressively, telling tales of love's up and downs. Now and then, rap turns up, most notably on Sporty Thievz's "Hit It Up" (one of two tracks not actually featured in the film). But mostly, the love patter rules. The best examples are Maxwell's "Let's Not Play the Game" and the duet "After All Is Said and Done," by Beyoncé and Marc Nelson.

tags: various artists, the best man, soundtrack, ost, music from the motion picture, 1999, flac,

November 12, 2019

Blood For Blood - Livin' In Exile (1999) ☠

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Heavy Hardcore
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1999 Victory Records
AllMusic Review by Mike DaRonco
Let's see: the band is called Blood for Blood, the album is called Livin' In Exile, they represent the East Coast and the release is on Victory. Without even listening to a note on this record, you already know what it's going to sound like. But for all those with their head in the clouds: hardcore in that metallic chugga-chugga sort of way with some hits of OI! and a blatant Slapshot influence -they're both from Boston after all. But what makes this stand out is a lack of cheesiness, testosterone -well, maybe a little bit- and bone headed lyrics. Even a Motorhead cover of "Ace of Spades," but like they needed it to impress all the Victory Record followers.

tags: blood for blood, livng in exile, livin, 1999, flac,

Agnostic Front - Something's Gotta Give (1998) ☠

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hardcore
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1998 Epitaph
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson
Their first recording for '90s punk mega-label Epitaph, Something's Gotta Give began a second comeback of sorts for New York hardcore veterans Agnostic Front. After too many long, ill-timed periods of inactivity due to legal and personal struggles, and a controversial metallic phase, the band's relevance had withered considerably by the time of this 1998 release. But there still existed enough interest from purists, musicians, and younger fans -- all appreciative of Agnostic Front's NYHC innovations, and unconcerned with the subsequent stylistic shifts -- to warrant this attempted resurrection of their early-career sound. The songs are fast, simple, and loaded with politically confrontational lyrics. This formula works best on the opening title track, as well as other standouts like "Today, Tomorrow, Forever"; "Do or Die"; and "Gotta Go." Their finest disc in years, Something's Gotta Give might not have broken any musical barriers, but the record helped to solidify Agnostic Front's position among the punk rock elite.

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Agnostic Front - Riot Riot Upstart (1999)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hardcore
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© 1999 Epitaph
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
Riot, Riot, Upstart is a 1999 album in the classic early-'80s Agnostic Front style: full-on, straight-ahead, adrenaline-driven hardcore. It may not be anything new, but it is refreshing in the late '90s to hear the genre's roots still being adhered to, and the lack of glossy overproduction is another plus. Agnostic Front's political concerns and righteous anger are still very much intact, and while it's a shame that there aren't many new voices popping up to address these concerns, it's nice to still have veterans who know exactly what they're talking about.

tags: agnostic front, riot riot upstart, 1999, flac,

November 11, 2019

Lifers Group - Lifers Group: E.P. (1991)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Conscious Rap, Gangsta Rap
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© 1991 Hollywood Basic
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
From Ice-T to Eazy-E, numerous gangster rappers have provided chilling narratives about the life of crime they put behind them. The members of the Lifers Group, however, didn't quit before it was too late -- they're real-life inmates at New Jersey's infamous Rahway State Penitentiary who recorded this album behind bars. One of the most unsettling recordings in the history of rap, this CD is the hip-hop equivalent of "Scared Straight" -- a no-holds-barred audio-documentary of the horrors of prison life. When these inmates (one of whom had been locked up 14 years in 1990) describe the hell of their day-to-day existences and what led to their incarceration, it's clear that they're actually living the nightmare they document. The Lifers' message to young felons on the outside it clear: change your ways before you end up like us.

tags: lifers group, lifers group ep, 1991, flac,

Domino - Domino (1993)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap, Pop Rap
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© 1993 Outburst Records
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
The story behind the forgotten rapper Domino is that he found no love among his West Coast brothers. Rumor has it, the whole Left Coast thought he had stolen the up-and-coming Snoop Dogg's style and therefore he was boycotted, prematurely ending his career after just one album. His debut is filled with that laid-back, slippery soul with booming bass that figured heavily into Snoop's early G-funk, and while it does sound a bit like the Doggfather, it's at best an influence. Domino has his own way of leaning, a much jazzier stance that fits perfectly with DJ Battlecat's beats and productions. Flutes, mellow guitars, and plenty of other soul-jazz sounds fill the album and dominate the first hit, the classic "Ghetto Jam," which ends in genuine jam session. The second hit, "Sweet Potato Pie," is even more fondly remembered thanks to Domino's skill at delivering rhymes that "ain't rated PG" with just the right amount of deadpan humor. "Do You Qualify" is a bit creepy since it's Domino's way of asking "Are you jailbait?," but most everything else here goes splendidly with round beds, mirrors on the ceiling, and black-velvet paintings of naked Nubian goddesses

tags: domino, domino album, 1993, flac,