Hip Hop Album Reviews (06/2017)

Music On Mars

MUSIC ON MARS

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An album by The Criminal Network

Review presented by Authentik Rhymez

Listen to “Music On Mars” by The Criminal Network

Any artist(s) interested in having a review done should check out the offers provided by The Write Reviews or contact The Write Reviews.


THE INTRO

The Criminal Network has ties to several artists who could be considered interchangeable members as they were listed under the group’s name at one point or another and still work with The Criminal Network on a regular basis, but there are two artists who have been there from the beginning and would be considered the pillars of the squad. Swoop and Shawn P. have and will always represent The Criminal Network, and are proud to be the founding members of the group. After recording several projects together, and too many other tracks to try and count, these two emcees have not only found a way to mesh well but have also became brothers and best friends in the process. Being from the very town that I live in, I felt it would be biased if I were to review their newest album, so I decided to put Authentik Rhymez on the job. This album has a wide range of ‘flavor’ to it, and Authentik Rhymez always seems to be on point with his feedback regardless of the style, subject matter, and diversity that can be included on a single album. That being said, I am interested in reading Authentik Rhymez’ thoughts on Music On Mars by The Criminal Network.


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THE ALBUM

1- 80’s Baby feat. Sydal and Mr. Sheist

We open the Music On Mars album with a dope track to bump up at the function. The beat kind of gives off a west coast vibe with its bass and melodies. This adds to the atmosphere and makes the track a bangin’ record that’ll keep people vibin’. The Criminal Network’s ability to describe their 80’s mentality can make this nostalgic for all the 80’s babies. The flows are clean and each verse transitions seamlessly throughout the song. Very quality sound, and a good way to start this project off.

2- Bang Bang feat. Spice 1

Second on the list is “Bang Bang”. Here we keep the gangsta vibes going on another quick-paced, bouncy style instrumental. I really enjoy the production choice and flow styles on this track. The hook helps to reiterate the “Me Against Everybody” message, and though it’s got a heavier tone, it’s still something nice to bob your head to.

3- Big Al (Change)

This track changes up and an acoustic guitar is now the lead instrument, giving a more sombre tone. Here, The Criminal Network showcase their storytelling skills. Though it’s a bit softer, it still holds the raw straight-forward lyrics that don’t hold back and gives us a peek inside a broken mind. The expression of real strife in the form of great writing and storytelling, that’s Hip-Hop.

4- Dead Man Walking

Here we stick with the acoustic guitar sound, however we get a more western feel with the backing melody and rugged vocals on the chorus. I really enjoy the vibes this one gives me, and the flows detail a man with going nowhere in life. The story of a loved one locked up is one lots of people are all too familiar with. I can see quite a few listeners relating to this record. Nice display of their versatility and creative talents.

5- Die With Me

Now we’re really getting more Pop influences in this piece. I get reminded of artists like Nelly when I hear the chorus. The verses are put together well, describing each artist’s version of the perfect female. I know a lot of listeners could enjoy this one. I personally wasn’t a big fan of the way some of the track was put together, but I can appreciate their efforts to keep things fresh. To me, different aspects of the song could have been put together a little differently to make them stand out more. At times it doesn’t feel like its full potential was met, but I still really liked the music.

6- They Don’t Know feat. Man Hunt

We get back to the raw underground style here in “Don’t Know”. The overall track is a warning to those getting in the Criminal Network’s way. The flows are smooth, as they had been so far. The lyrics are also more conscious style and look to raise awareness of The Criminal Network’s presence more than anything. Nice vibes, but this one might be slept on by those who get lost in the repetitiveness.

7- Haters On Mute feat. D. Boone

The bars are more evident in this track dedicated to the haters. Smooth piano beat and clean flows make this an easy listen. I enjoy this style from them more, maybe it has to do with my love for harder style production, but it seems they go in a bit more on tracks like this. Lots of listeners will enjoy this one. The chorus playing throughout the outro added a nice touch to the track as well. A real well put together track here.

8- I Think I’m In Love feat. Torelli

Now here Hip Hop/R&B blend together nicely. Torelli’s vocals and Shawn P’s ability to expresses his feelings towards a girl in a smooth manner help keep the atmosphere of the track light and pleasant. The switch up from singing to rap vocals help keep my attention. I really enjoyed the change up in styles. Fans of many styles of music will enjoy this track. I loved the vocal work and the flows in the verses were simpler, yet had a message many fans could relate to. One of my favorites off the album.

9- Leave Them All Behind feat. Aaron Green and Hopsin

We come back to the Rock/Hip Hop style here, yet a little bit softer in overall tone. Also, Hopsin makes a special appearance on this piece too. I really enjoy the fact that they do such different styles, and it seems like they do it so easily. Though some didn’t work on this album exactly how they probably wanted, majority of the tracks were put together real nicely and have tons of replay value. This track here could use a little bit more work on the overall mix but I enjoyed it a lot. It just sounds a little too much like something was added at some points in the mix, making it sound kind of synthetic. With a little bit of touching up, this could be an even nicer track than it already is.

10- Living It Up feat. Ten Dolla, Sean T, and Mississippi

The hype vibes return on this track. The chorus opens it up, and lets us know exactly what this piece is about. This record’s hook reminds me of some old school gangsta style lyrics, mainly because of the flow. Sounds like some old school West Coast G Funk music. You can leave behind the bad vibes and bump this track down the block. Really fun track and slick lyrics, another one of my favorites.

11- Made You Look

This track has a super dope beat. The synth melody that plays throughout the hook gives off a grimy feel and the simple piano melody reminds me of the traditional gangsta sound. I love the hard, street sound and if you do too, this track is one for you. The tone of this track is mainly political, discussing prison, police brutality and the artists’ disdain towards law enforcement. This is also one of the tracks I’ve liked the most on this project so far. I know many listeners would be able to relate, and it speaks on topics still affecting people nationwide.

12- Midnight Mistress feat. Aaron Green

Fan of Rock? If so, this track could help give you your fix of hard guitar riffs and screaming vocals. I enjoyed the blend of Hip Hop and Rock here, the guitar solo that comes in during the bridge/breakdown was pretty sweet too. The track reminds me of Strange Music’s Prozak. Overall, the mix feels kind of empty, feels like the stereo field could have been more opened up, but maybe that’s just me. I enjoy a full beat and vocals, especially in Rock. Nice change up, though. I really like this one. Underground fans could enjoy this one too.

13- One Night Stand feat. Wanz and E-40

Fans of the hyphy movement will love this one. Here we got Bay area legend E-40 on ‘One Night Stand’. He always puts together some clean vocals and doesn’t disappoint here. Overall the song was put together nicely. Reminds me of my days back home in California. I hear Nate Dogg’s style in this chorus too. I appreciate that, not many artists can pull off that sound and do it well while adding their own flavor to it. I just wish the beat knocked a bit harder, but again, that’s just my preference. Real solid track otherwise.

14- Ride or Die feat. Nova D

We dive right back into the wicked street style on ‘Ride Out’. This is how you kill a dark underground beat. I love the slow piano melody that goes in and out. Brings the tone down an extra notch when it comes in. The flows are dope, and the replay value is definitely there. Another banger for the block here, this will sound clean in your stereo. Though the lyrics aren’t too complex, they’re able to keep your attention and are still fire in their own right. This one will be a favorite of many listener’s easy. Good work, Shawn P & C.O.

15- Ride Out feat. CO tha Bad Black

Here we switch the style up another 180 degrees. We dive back into some R&B/Pop blends with Criminal Network’s style of Hip Hop. Here we are told the stories of females who have stuck by their men through thick and thin. This group is really into expressing their emotions towards the women and I was surprised to find so many tracks dedicated to love and relationships. It’s refreshing to hear sometimes when the underground scene is so full of aggressive music. I liked this one, but I feel the tracks could have been arranged better on this project so it flows easier from track to track.

16- They Don’t Love Us

The Criminal Network brings us back to the Hip Hop with this song about the streets. I am impressed with how consistent the flows remain as we draw near the end of the album. I haven’t had a track yet where I thought the flows were lacking any effort. I know many mainstream artists who couldn’t deliver this many lyrical tracks in one project. A real solid piece in my opinion.

17- Unglued feat. Chris Ewing

And once again we switch up to an R&B/Hip Hop vibe on ‘Unglued’. The slow acoustic guitar and soft strings are pleasing to hear. I liked this piece a lot. The hook was clean and easy to remember. The verses are full of truth and emotion. I appreciate the outside-the-box thinking this project has displayed. I just wish there was more done to the vocals on the hook to help them stand out and feel like a real hook but it was still done well nonetheless.

18- What I Did Last Night feat. Hk

Though this beat starts soft, the track quickly transitions to a simple guitar melody. The lyrics were honestly a little unexpected, especially because of how much softer this track feels. Some of the vocals do sound like they were mixed either at different times or using different DAW’s. The 1st half of the vocals don’t sound as up front and in your face as the 2nd half does. This track isn’t bad, but being that it’s one of the last tracks on the album, it’s understandable that they have at least one not-so-stellar piece at some point. With this project’s tracklist, it’d be easy to overlook this track. Still a smooth listen though.


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FEATURED TRACKS

80’s Baby, Bang Bang, Big Al (Change), Dead Man Walking, Haters on Mute, Leave Them All Behind, Living It Up, Midnight Mistress, and Ride or Die


THE WRITE UP

I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the diversity in this album. Being that this is a group local to our Write Reviews founder, it makes it that much more surprising. You never know where you’ll find your next favorite artists. I would rate this album at a 4 out of 5 stars. Some of the production and mixes sounded like they needed work, and some of they styles they used weren’t properly executed, but if they can fine tune their crafts and keep exploring their creative out-the-box style, I could see this group getting some real solid listens. Lyrically, I enjoyed almost all of the vocals, The Criminal Network sounds like they have found their specific sound and know how to blend them together to compliment each other.


STAR STATUS

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

(4 out of 5 stars)


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