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When the adverts for the original showing of Dexter came on the FX television channel back in April or May 2008 I remember watching with great interest. A show about a serial killer who worked for the police, surely this would be too over the top to even imagine watching and the trailer seemed to confirm that, picking some terrible clips to put together. Many months passed and I'd almost forgotten about the show until I received season 1 as a unexpected birthday present from my girlfriend and boy was I happy she bought me this show.
Dexter is a crime/drama TV series made for television by James Manos JR, and based on Jeff Lindsay's book 'Darkly Dreaming of Dexter'. The basis of the show and books centre around Michael C Hall's character Dexter Morgan, a forensic blood splatter analyst who works for the Miami Metro Police Department but also hides a dark secret, he's a serial killer with a moral code, a killer who targets other killers he believes have escaped the punishment of the law, bringing his own brand of justice involving his own special tool kit and a gruesome end for those involved. The first season revolves mainly around Dexter and the Miami polices search for 'The Ice Truck Killer', a serial killer leaving messages for Dexter at his crime scenes.
The Dexter Morgan character is one that is incredibly complex and difficult to fully explore without giving much away on what we learn over the course of the first two seasons, and for me one that is incredibly interesting. Adopted at the age of 3 by police officer Harry Morgan after being orphaned in a traumatic incident (you'll have to watch the full season to find out what happened), a man who early on in Dexter's childhood noticed the signs of a sociopath in the development and spent many years teaching Dexter ways to control his urges, to fit into society, and most importantly taught him the moral code that stops Dexter fulfilling his blood thirst on undeserving members of the public. Dexter's obsessed with blood and helps fuel this obsession with his job as a blood specialist at crime scenes, who better than a serial killer to work out what was going on from the blood splatters right? Dexter describes himself as being empty inside at all times except when he allows his urges to kill to rise to the top once he's found a victim that fits his code, although he is very skilled in hiding this emotionless state and faking the day to day feelings of a normal person, often pausing for a moment just to run over situations in his head to make sure he's making the decision anyone of us would make. Many of the things he does in his daily life are to help him seem more normal to the outside world, from going bowling with his work mates, to his relationship with Rita nothing is as it seems on the surface with Dexter. Michael C Hall brings a strong, confident performance in his role portraying the part of the sociopath trying to blend into society, its a part that played wrongly I thought could have easily turned the viewer against Dexter but Hall keeps you rooting for our hero all the way through despite his violent tendencies. It's difficult to really think of anyone who could play this role in the way Hall does bringing a quirkiness and oddly friendly approach to a role most would view as being inherently evil in essence.
Playing the role of Rita Bennett, Dexter's girlfriend, is experienced actress Julie M Benz who's played so many roles you're bound to recognise her from one of them. Rita is busy trying to raise two young children, while also trying to cope with the mental anguish she's experiencing from the abuse she suffered in her past relationship with husband Paul who she's separated from. Dexter describes her as being as damaged as he is and states this as the reason he chose her for a relationship, knowing her intimacy issues will hide his lack of sexual urges and desires, while all the time fearing if she gets over her issues he won't be able to hold onto her. Benz is a perfect choice for this role and makes the character very believable, which in turn leave the viewer with an emotional attachment to the character. I believe Rita is very important to the entire show due to the different emotional reactions she can provoke from the viewer as opposed to Dexter who obviously isn't going to be able to give viewers the satisfaction that comes with seeing our heroes finding true love, sharing happy moments etc as we already know Dexter doesn't feel anything in these moments.
Playing the role of Dexter's foster sister, Homicide Detective Debra Morgan, is Jennifer Carpenter. Debra look's up to Dexter but is also jealous of the attention he used to get as a child from her father Harry, and constantly yearns for the day when it will be her looking after Dexter, not the other way round. Debra is dedicate to her job and friends and can be quite an intense person at times, usually when driving towards some sort of target or when she's angry, which is often shown by her intensely working out in the gym. Carpenter has quite a good on screen chemistry with Hall but that's no surprise as the pair have recently married. Yet despite this chemistry there were times when I felt her performance let the show down slightly, she often came across as desperate and annoying to me with some of her more extreme reactions, while other times her screeching voice just grated on me.
Some of the other supporting character who have roles to play include Sgt. James Doakes (Erik King), the only one in the police force who gets 'the creeps' from Dexter and knows there's something different about him but can't put his finger on it, Lieutenant Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) who seems more interested in climbing the career ladder and getting her face on the news than what's going on around the police department, honest cop Detective Angelo 'Angel' Batista who looks at Dexter as a good friend much to Dexter's amazement, and Vincent 'Vince' Masuka (C.S. Lee) who works alongside Dexter in the forensics department and has a more perverted sense of humour to most of the others, and more.
The Show and More of What I Thought
One of the things I really like about the show is it's narrated by Dexter himself which helps bring it closer to the book it's based on, but more importantly it allows us to learn more about Dexter and what he is thinking, what he is all about, and generally lets the viewer become closer to the character and understand why he is acting the way he does. What I also liked was the wickedly dark humour present throughout the show, which extended from the more light hearted moments to some of the more sinister ones, it really added to the whole feel of the show.
The title sequence to the show is one of the more entertaining ones you'll see on TV today, the events may only involve Dexter getting up in the morning, making breakfast etc but the way everything is portrayed the connotations of something darker are clear to see, with blood being a central theme, such as the mosquito, Dexter cutting himself shaving, and the blood orange among other things. Accompany this with some great music that really fits and you have my favourite start sequence in any show ever.
The show obviously can be quite violent at times, but then again it would be difficult to have a show about a serial killer and not have any blood or violence in it. From the first episode onwards we are shown the levels of violence Dexter is capable of, sedating his victims before tying them to a table in a prepared environment (which really has to be seen to be appreciated fully), before going at them with a scalpel making precise cuts and taking a blood marker as a trophy from each of them. For some people this violence may be a bit too much even when most times it is shown it is towards people who are essentially evil, although it doesn't bother me at all so this isn't a drawback.
The show can at times stretch the believability factor with some of the things that happen, such as ways in which Dexter avoids police at some crime scenes, or just some of the things he manages to do and get away with, but is this enough to spoil what is essentially a great show? No it's not at all, from start to finish I've thoroughly enjoyed watching Dexter and was quite happy to accept that he got away with some of the more unbelievable things that happened
Overall I believe Dexter to be one of the best TV shows of it kind about today, it's quite dark and won't be for everyone, like I said before if you can't stand violence this isn't the show for you. My only regret is I didn't discover it sooner. For a show that only runs 12 episodes it does everything it needs to, it delivers a good multilayered storyline, keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat and guessing what's going to happen, and most importantly it does what many shows fail to do - when it comes to major moments in the show it delivers, there is no anti-climax in this show. I recommend this to anyone who can handle more adult themed shows as opposed to some of the glitzy Hollywood stuff on today.
After spending the best part of 2 months working my way through the masterpiece of television that is 'The Wire' I was left with a massive hole in my television viewing schedule. After the intensity and the quality of the story telling I'd recently become accustom to I knew I couldn't follow it up with just any show, it would have to be something clever, something hard hitting, and more importantly something good. With so many recommendations being given to me from friends and family alike I was struggling to pick something until one night I was sat at home watching a Family Guy repeat on FX when during the adverts a trailer for a soon to debut in the UK show caught my eye. Using the wonders of modern technology I hit the rewind button to view it in full, the show was called 'The Corner', was created the same people as 'The Wire' and seemed to have some of the same actors. I'd found my new show.
'The Corner' is a mini series created by David Simon and David Mills in 2000, based on the true to life book 'The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighbourhood' by David Simon and Ed Burns. The show focuses on the broken family of Gary McCullough, Francine 'Fran' Boyd, and teenager DeAndre McCullough, while also looking at the life of the drug addicts and drug dealers based around the open air drug market on Fayette & Monroe Streets corner, one of Baltimore, Maryland's poorest neighbourhoods. Creator David Simon spent 3 years observing the real life corner depicted, getting to know the people living in the area, using a video camera to interview many of the people while also getting involved in the local community. It is during this time that Simon met Gary, Fran, and DeAndre and decided to make them the centre of his book and TV show.
Gary McCullough, played by the excellent T.K. Carter, is the drug addicted father of DeAndre and former husband of Fran, who spends his days working out how he's going to find the money to buy his daily fix of heroin, while also always on the look out for a cigarette. Gary is an intelligent man who wasn't always poor; he was a rich stock market trader in his younger days in which time time he met, married, and had a child with Fran before succumbing to drug addiction and losing everything that was important to him in his life. Whats very plain to see is Gary is a good person with real morals and values but is trapped by his addiction. Many times throughout the mini series we witness his internal struggle between drugs and wanting to be a father to DeAndre to develop a real relationship with him. Add to that a scheming girlfriend, Ronnie, who does more bad than good for Gary and you realise just how trapped in his situation he really is. I thought Carter was stunning in his portrayal of this conflicted man, and his ups and downs left me with a real emotional attachment to the character, which often left me with real feelings of sadness.
Francine 'Fran' Boyd, played by Khandi Alexander (who many may know from 'CSI: Miami'), is the drug addict mother of DeAndre struggling to get through life and look after her son. The two of them live in 'Dew Drop Inn' (the groups nickname for the home they use as a drug sanctuary) with her two drug addicted sisters, Bunchie and Sharry, her drug addict brother Stevie and his son. It's clear Fran wants the very best she can for DeAndre and doesn't want him to continue drug dealing and eventually end up in jail, but coping as a single mother with a strong minded teenage son is hard enough, throw in drug addiction, the lack of a job and the environment they find themselves in and its clear to all that this is a situation anyone would struggle in. At times Fran comes across as bitter, unfair, and almost devious, often in her exchanges with Gary this comes out the most, but its clear she loves her family and still cares for Gary. I though Alexander excelled in this role of the troubled mother, much like Carters performance she left me with a strong emotional attachment to the person portrayed.
Last but not least in the family is young DeAndre McCullough played by Sean Nelson. DeAndre had been dealing drugs with his friends since he was 13 and shows no signs of really leaving the life, despite efforts to find a job. Having seen what drug addiction has done to his parents and many of the people around him DeAndre knows the perils first hand of what life as a drug addict could do to him and what it's done to his family, yet he usually still manages to smile. Spending much of his free time with his friends chasing girls or down the local community centre run by respected local Ella Thompson (or Miss Ella as the boys refer to her as) and playing basketball, DeAndre has little to do with his mother and even less to do with his estranged father. You can see he wants to develop these relationships but each time he come close something to do with the life they're all trapped in prevents this, one particular scene that really stirred my emotions involved Gary and DeAndre starting to bond by (briefly) playing basketball together before it being cut short by Ronnie arriving with some drugs for her and Gary.
For a mini-series 'The Corner' has a large amount of character outside of the main family mentioned, although that should be no surprise thinking of the amount of people Simon must have met during the 3 years. From the man all the addicts look up to due to how long he's survived in the streets Fat Curt (played by Clarke Peters who played Leicester Freeman in 'The Wire'), George 'Blue' Epps, or the young Tyreeka Freamon, all have their own part to play in the story and all portray the roles they are cast as as close to life as possible. Fan's of 'The Wire' should keep a look out as I spotted at least ten actors or actresses from the show who were also here in 'The Corner', some in bit parts, some in larger roles.
The Show and More of What I Thought
The show has gained major acclaim for it's no hold barred depiction of life on the street and this is all down to Simon's time in Baltimore that I mentioned earlier. The characters and events in this show are not fictional ones based on real life, they are real people using the real names of those involved so as to make the show (and book before hand) as shockingly truthful as possible. Real Baltimore slang is used, while the depictions of what drug addiction does to a person are more shocking in this show than any I've ever seen before. One particular part really stood out in my mind, a female drug addict by the name of Rita Hale develops sores all over her body which slowly as the series develops get worse until they are just massive open wounds, all the while putting off going to get treatment because of the fact she knows she wont be able to take drugs while shes in the hospital. It's depictions like this that make 'The Corner' one of the most powerful shows I've ever seen, this is not for the weak hearted or anyone who dislikes strong emotional dramas.
The show is produced by Simon and also Robert F. Colesberry, and man Simon credited when making 'The Wire' as a the major reason behind being able to transfer the realism to film. It's clear from watching this series and seeing the similarities between it and 'The Wire' that the consistencies between his work show that everything is pretty much as you would find it if you went to one of these neighbour hoods today. This is obviously one of the reasons his shows win so many awards and gain so much praise. Each episode starts as a video camera interview with one of our three main stars and then goes on to follow their life after the interview is usually cut short by the character being annoyed by a question they've been asked. Each of our stars having two episodes each based around themselves and their past but all of the family are involved in each others episodes. I think this helps to illustrate the fact the show is based on a true life book, with the start of each episode working like an introduction to each new chapter.
'The Corner' doesn't try to make out every drug addict or dealer as bad people and takes each on their individual merit and situation. The sociological study this programme takes on this sort of life is unprecedented on shows/films I've seen myself, which was a major factor in why I loved it. Seeing the way these people struggled everyday to put together money for drugs was a real eye opener in many ways, while also seeing the things they did for accommodation, friendships, food and certain members of the community showed a side of the life rarely shown or documented.
Now a question I've been asking myself is do I have any complaints about the show? After much deliberation the answer is a resounding no. The characterisation and the story telling is gritty and superb throughout, and the final interview with the real Fran and DeAndre really kicking in the realism of what you've just seen. I realise this show will be too heavy for some people, which is fair enough, digging deep into the emotional life of a drug addicted neighbourhood isn't every ones cup of tea, but for those who enjoy these types of dramas I couldn't recommend it any higher, and if you're a fan of 'The Wire' this show is a perfect accompaniment to the Baltimore's other gritty drama.
For the best part of a year a good friend of mine had been constantly telling me to watch a show called 'The Wire', telling me that out of everyone he knew I would love it more than anyone else, and that I would love a character called Omar. Knowing little about the show except what my friend had told me my partner and I instead watched (for the first time) the DVD box sets of shows like '24' and 'The Sopranos', preferring to go with the more well known names before chancing a programme dubbed a cop drama by most, a genre I've never been overly keen on. When we finally got through everything else we decided to give 'The Wire' it's chance and quickly found ourselves hooked.
'The Wire' is a drama set in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, with the first season being centred around a specially created police squad's investigation into drugs king pin Avon Barksdale and his crew. Created by former journalist David Simon and creator of award winning mini-series drama 'The Corner', executive producer Robert F. Colesberry who had worked with Simon on 'The Corner', and (to a lesser extent) former teacher and homicide detective Ed Burns. Much of the basic story line is based on Burns real experiences in the police force and the office politics that frustrated him during his police career. Now 'The Corner' received wide spread acclaim for it's no hold barred realism in depicting the life of drug addicts living in a housing project in Baltimore and the 'The Wire' picked up right where that left off, often being called the most realistic show ever on television, depicting both police and street life as openly as possible (with extra themes developing season by season). Creator Simon credits Colesberry's work as executive producer as the major force behind bringing this realism to the small screen, often casting people from troubled back grounds and with no acting experience in parts such as drug addicts, gangsters and dealers, which really intensifies the feel of the show. The shows production and sets are all from the local Baltimore areas they are meant to depict so what you see is what you get from this show, no dressing up of the facts here.
The show features roughly 90 different actors in speaking roles across the 13 episodes of the first season, which only adds to the depth of the show and really illustrates the lengths creator Simon went too to really build a compelling storyline with more layers than most programmes can bring in their entire lifetimes. Also due to this fact it's impossible for me to discuss all the characters that play a role in this season so I'm going to take a look at some of the more important faces.
Homicide detective James 'Jimmy' McNulty is probably the closest thing we have to a main character, played superbly by English actor Dominic West (300, 28 Days, Hannibal Rising). McNulty is what they call in the show 'real police'. A supremely talented homicide detective born for the job, with a higher than average clearance rate on murders, possessing a massive problem for authority, and who will often go above his superiors heads (or behind their backs) when things aren't going his way to try and help develop his cases. Jimmy can be credited with first noticing the Barksdale gangs rising drug trade and pushing for an investigation into their organisation. There is no doubting the passion or the talent McNulty shows for the job but his problem with authority, his unwillingness to respect the chain of command, his habit of often drinking on the job, and his down right arrogance do him no favours with his employers or with his colleges. Add to that an ex-wife and a custody battle for visiting rights to his two young sons and you'll realise McNulty is a much more complex character than he first appears. I love McNulty, he amuses me to no end with his maverick actions and constant use of his almost catch phrase 'what the f**k did I do?', when people have a go at him.
One of the more likeable characters is detective William 'Bunk' Moreland, played by Wendell Pierce (Sleepers, Waiting to Exhale, Hackers). Often referring to himself as 'The Bunk', Moreland is a supremely talented detective with similar skills to his best friend and drinking partner McNulty, but without having Jimmy's problems with authority, Bunk definitely has his head screwed on when it comes to working in the police force. The Bunk is not without his own problems though; he drinks as often as McNulty and has a major problem with infidelity once he gets into these states. One of the funniest scenes of the whole series involves a drunken Bunk attempting to burn his clothes in a bath tub after cheating on his wife to destroy 'trace evidence', whilst wearing a pink ladies robe.
Narcotics Lieutenant Cedric Daniels, played by Lance Reddick (The Corner, Lost, Oz), is passionate about his job, has a straight down the line attitude and ambitions to climb the career ladder to the top. Supremely intelligent (the character posses a law degree) and loyal to his staff, Daniels often clashes with the higher ups, such as Deputy Commissioner Burrell, but often his ambitions and a rumoured shady past prevent him from taking actions that might upset the rank and command above him for fear of hindering his career progression. Reddick is another actor perfect for his character.
Detective Lester Freeman is one of the more interesting and deeper characters in the show. Played to perfection by Clarke Peters (check out his Wikipedia page to see the many talents of the man), the Freeman character is another example of the sheer brilliant casting. Freeman work's in the Police Pawnshop unit until he is transferred to Daniels team, and has a hobby for making dollhouse furniture. From the outside this character may look like a simple house cat but looks can be deceiving.
An openly 'out' lesbian (to keep the male officers away from her) Detective Shakima 'Kima' Greggs, played by actress Sonja Sohn, is as tough as they come on the police force. Capable of administrating a beating like she was one of the men, Kima also has the same sort of off the job issues as many of her co-workers. She is excellent at her job and her list of informants only adds to her value to the team.
Detectives Thomas 'Herc' Hauk (Domenick Lombardozzi) and Ellis Carver (Seth Gilliam) are like two peas in a pod. The jokers of the pack they are immensely loyal to each other, best friends, and dedicated to the task at hand. Both are young with aspirations to rise up the ranks, but have a history of police brutality and cutting corners to progress a case and bring a charge.
Detective Leander Sydnor (played by Corey Parker Robinson) is a young and talented police detective who was specially requested by Lt. Daniels to work on the Barksdale detail and described by him as the departments best. Sydnor is often used for under cover work due to his African-American heritage and the fact Carver, the only other young and black detective in the team, is pretty well know to the gangsters due to his brutality.
Last but not least on the Barksdale detail is detective Roland 'Prez' Pryzbylewski, played by Jim True-Frost. He has a history of erratic behaviour and general incompetence on the force, the kind that would get most people sacked. Of course most people aren't married to the daughter of police Commander Stanislaus 'Stan' Valchek, who is willing to pull any strings needed to keep Prez in a job.
There are a few more members of the detail but I'll let you discover these for yourselves, besides they have minor roles compared to the above named detectives.
One of my personal favourite characters is junkie Reginald 'Bubbles' (or Bubz) Cousins, played by the brilliant Andre Royo. Living rough with only his wits, his supreme knowledge of the streets, and his close friend Johnny Weeks (Leo Fitzpatrick), who he's schooling in the game, to help him survive and, more importantly, to help him with the everyday struggle of finding some money to buy his next batch of drugs. Bubz also works as an informant for friend Kima, both as a favour to her and to earn a few extra dollars. Royo brings a tremendous amount of emotion to the role, and I can personally say I felt quite attached to this particular character, he's an actor whose talent, by checking his past work or rather lack of, has obviously been greatly over looked for various parts. Keep an eye on Bubz, he has quite a journey to take.
Which brings me to my personal all time favourite character in anything ever, the man so feared he's referred to only by his first name - the legend that is Omar. Played by the ultra charismatic Michael K. Williams ('Gone Baby, Gone', 'Alias', 'Six Degrees'), Omar Little is a legend on the streets, a stick up guy who makes his living robbing drug dealers with the help of his trusty shotgun, who often has full blocks of people running away screaming 'Omar's coming' such is the fear he strikes amongst the drug dealing community. Yet for all his disregard for people who are 'in the game' Omar lives by a strict code not to harm anyone not involved, a code that he never deviates from, and that earned him the respect of some of the community. He is also the only character that makes a point of not using profanity. The world of black street gangsters is a traditionally homophobic one, one in which gay men are usually cast as hiding their sexuality from the world around them, yet Omar is openly gay and doesn't care who knows it, often seen in public shows of affection with his boyfriend Brandon. I thought this was a very brave decision by the writers due to the lack of precedent of a male gay character in such a role, it could have easily backfired and if not portrayed correctly, yet if anything it only adds to the many different layers of the man such is Williams talent in playing this role. For me Omar constantly has the best lines in the show and the character only develops more and more throughout the seasons. In many ways it's a part unlike any you will have seen, indeed Williams said a major reason he auditioned to play Omar (he got it after 1 audition) was the fact it would make him stand out from others black actors such was the unusualness of the character. Williams was born to play Omar, he's my favourite, he's everyone I knows favourite, he's even Barack Obama's favourite character! I could talk for much longer about him but you really should check out the show yourself and see the legend in action.
Which brings me to the Barksdale organisation and who better to start with than the drug king pin himself Avon Barksdale, played by Wood Harris a veteran of many roles. Avon was born into the game and is extremely smart, he runs his organisation like a business trying to crush all competition and distances himself away from handling anything illegal or talking on mobile phones. He's very short tempered and extremely concerned with maintain his image and name on the street, and trusts few but the trusted members of his gang. Yet for all these things I really liked Avon. Maybe it was his charisma, maybe it was some of his lines, no matter he's a great character.
Below Avon is second in command Russell 'Stringer' Bell played by English actor Idris Elba, which was again perfect casting. If you were going to describe him in one word it would have to be cerebral, he's an 'A' grade economics student, who makes most of the financially decisions for the Barksdale crew. With ever expanding ambitions to enter the legal business world through the collection of property and small businesses, such as a strip club and a print shop, Stringer often looks past the initial violent plans made by Avon and tries to advise him in a way that will benefit him more financially in the long run as opposed to just building his name on the streets. Stringer Bell is the true brains behind the Barksdale crew, a cold, calculating, ruthless character. Elba has come a long way from bit parts in 'the Bill' and 'Absolutely Fabulous'.
D'Angelo 'Dee' Barksdale (Lawrence Gilliard Jr) is the nephew of king pin Avon and a high ranking member of the crew, and like his uncle born into the life. After beating a murder case D'Angelo is demoted from running one of the high rise buildings the Barksdale Organisation control for the drug trade, to running the project area known as 'the pit'. Dee is among the best examples of someone involved in the sale of drugs who is also a very good person at heart. He often makes the morally right decision, and sometimes the more shocking moments effect Dee's conscience more than the other gangsters.
Working below Dee (among others) is the trio of Preston 'Bodie' Broadus (J.D. Williams), Malik 'Poot' Carr (Tray Chaney), and Wallace (Michael B. Jordan). Bodie is by far the toughest of the youngsters, embracing life in the game with open arms, while Poot seems to be more interested in girls than anything else. Wallace is the same age as the other two (16) but easily the least mature. We see scenes of Wallace playing with a toy or getting shouted at by the other gangsters for acting like a kid, but we also see a very caring side of the young man as the season develops. For me Wallace (along with Bubz) provokes the biggest emotional reaction from the viewer during this season, with the journey the character takes being one of the more intriguing storylines in the show. Young Jordan is superb in this role and I would hope future acting jobs would follow after this kind of performance.
As you can see there is a massive amount of characters in this show but there's many more who have roles to play I've not mentioned such is the depth of the programme. From the other members of the police department like Major William A. Rawls, Deputy Commissioner Ervin Burrell, Sergeant Jay Landsman, and more, to the Barksdale Organisation, which is much larger than just the few people I've talked about so far. Wee-Bay, Bird, Orlando and more all have roles to play, with each member bringing their own personality and filling the roles Avon and Stringer want them to.
The Show and More of What I Thought
The casting of the show is one the programmes strong points and the creators really should be proud of the job they did choosing these individuals. I do however think the on screen chemistry between many of the actors was almost guaranteed due to the fact over a dozen of them had worked together on 'Oz', and around ten had worked on 'The Corner' together. The use of real people with no acting experience was also an interesting move which only really adds to the realism of the show, with many of these people filling roles they occupied in their own careers and advising on how thing were really done, adding just another reason why The Wire is called the most real show on TV.
The show does not, unlike many programmes, make out every police officer to be a good person, and it also doesn't make out every African-American drug dealer/gangster to be the villains that the more narrow minded sections of society would class them all as. It shows that many members of the police are people with real faults in a job most assume is filled with decent personalities. Whether it being the depiction of alcoholism, police brutality, department politics, the chain of command or even their love lives it is clear for all to see the many similarities between the criminals and the crime fighters, as we learn many of the dealers and gangsters are good people born into a situation out of their control and trapped in the game. People who are capable of caring for others and having a real sense of what's right and what's wrong. The characters D'Angelo, Bubz and Wallace being the best examples in season 1 of this for me.
Obviously the name of the show is 'The Wire' and the whole structure of police surveillance and the use of wiretaps on phone lines is quite central to the shows structure. As I mentioned earlier Ed Burn's real life experiences and frustrations in handling these types of cases was a major influence on the whole show and the depiction of these techniques has been deemed so close to life that there has been reports of real criminals watching the show to take notes on how to avoid the police. I found it very interesting to learn about the sort of politics and red tape surrounding the police department and the guidelines they had to follow, I must say some of them sounded just crazy.
The Wire can be quite shocking at times in its depictions of violence, homelessness and drug addiction. They think nothing of it to show the true effects drugs like heroin and crack can cause with long term use (although not quite to the level they did in 'The Corner'), of showing the alcoholism involved with some of the police departments homicide detectives, or the side of being a drug dealing gangster that isn't usually spoken about. This is a major reason I love this show, I hate it when programmes try to glorify certain people, or also vilify individuals trapped in certain ways of life such as drug addiction.
My one complaint with the show is that the start of the first season is quite slow, the first three or four episodes feel almost like they are going into a little too much character development but considering the show was written from the start as a 5 season, 60 episode show it should really be expected the first few episodes will just start to feel things out with such a journey ahead. Every episode is a full 60 minutes long unlike most shows these days such as 'Lost' or '24'.
Overall I truly believe 'The Wire' to be the greatest television show ever made. From the casting to the direction, to the production, nothing is weak about this show. So many characters jump out the screen at you, while you can't help but get lost in Baltimore's world of drug addiction, gangsters, and police force. I truly believe anyone who watches this entire season will be hooked and want the other four box sets as soon as possible such is the quality of the show. If you made it all the way to the end thanks for reading, I know this was a long one but this is a 5 star show and there was no other way to do it justice.
Also posted on ciao UK and US.
1)What did you do in 2008 that you have not done before?
I started writing reviews on the internet, I started going to full contact kickboxing training sessions with some black belts (I'm one belt away from being half way there) and some of the other students in my class which was intense, I learned how to fix several thing to do with my car which will be pretty useful in future, I got to see the Ultimate Fighting Championships live, and I started eating chicken.
2) Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin had her second child (congrats Shev), one of my other cousin's celebrated having his second child on the way, and a good friend who moved to Manchester has celebrated his first just last month.
3) Did anyone close to you die?
No thankfully after the last couple of years when both relatives and friends/work colleagues have passed away.
4) What countries did you visit?
I didn't get to go away last year, far too skint for that unfortunately.
5) What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
Just a happier year with less problems and stress between me and my partner (I just want us to be happy together), I'd also like to move up 3 grades in my kickboxing by the end of the year, and probably take up Brazilian Jui-Jitsu to replace Judo, oh and more tattoos.
6) What dates will you remember from 2008?
None, only incidents such as the De Menezes trial coroner destroying any hope of justice that guys family had, or Russia bullying smaller countries like Georgia.
7) Did you suffer illness or injury?
I didn't really get ill a part from a few colds, and the obligatory end of year 'office flu' which everyone at work always get's and passes about to each other via the air conditioning.
Injury wise I've had no accidents or broken bones, but from kickboxing I've had a bust nose, on another occasion my nose was left feeling like a tenderised bit of meat, I'm had my lip bust a few times, had bruised ribs, pulled my groin muscle and my hamstring, hurt my elbow and possibly worst of all have been hit at least five times between the legs while sparring when I haven't had a groin guard on. At Judo training I pulled a muscle in my neck which has never been right since, I damaged my ankle after being thrown over the shoulder of someone and not break falling correctly, and at boxing I damaged my wrists when using the punching bags without hand wraps on under my boxing gloves.
8) What was the best thing you bought?
That's a difficult one, possibly my new headphones, possibly The Wire DVDs, but probably Grand Theft Auto IV for the Xbox 360.
9) Whose behaviour has merited celebration?
Well many of the people who deserve us celebrating their behaviour never get anything publicised about their actions as out media would rather tell us who Russell Brand has just shagged or that Jordan has just had more plastic surgery, but if there was one person that sticks out in my mind it would be Barack Obama.
10) Who's behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Russia for their bullying tactics to weaker nations, the coroner in the De Menezes case, the Judge for upholding the coroners ruling, Gordon Brown, the Greek police force and governments actions of the killing of Alexandros Grigoropoulos (RIP), the tragedy in Mumbai, Mike Ashley, the UN, Israel and Hamas, followers of Scientology, the killings in Sudan, many of the things I've read that are going on in China, there's more but I'd be here all day.
11) Where did most of your money go?
Bills and debt mainly, the car, and to a lesser extent cigarettes.
12) What did you get really excited about?
Barack Obama winning the election, The Wire television programme, many, many fights in the UFC (you have no idea how hyped up I get when watching my favourite sport), I possibly got excited at some point about Newcastle United but that couldn't have happened to many times in recent memory, Manny Pacquiao's amazing performances in the boxing ring, The Dark Knight, going to see The Game in concert, kickboxing.
13) What song will you remember from 2008?
'The Beast Is Us' by UK rapper Braintax, almost all of my political views summed up in one song, although I don't imagine there will be a whole lot of people on here who have heard it bar one or two who know who they are.
14) Compared to this time last year are you ..happier, fitter, more productive.
Not sure is I'm happier but I will be once all of the problems in my relationship sort themselves out, I haven't trained in kickboxing much over the last 2 months but I'm eating much better than I did last year and doing at least a little exercise so I would say I'm fitter, I'm definitely more productive if only in writing reviews.
15) What do you wish you had done more of?
Martial arts training for sure plus more time in the gym so I was fitter, stronger and a more skilled fighter, I wish I'd written more reviews and made a bit more cash as I could do with every penny I can get my hands on now, I wish I could have spent more time with my girl, to have taken her out more and basically treated her better and made her happier, I wish I'd listened to more ICP/rap as there's always room for more.
16) What do you wish you had done less of?
Haha I wish I'd done less work, watched less TV programmes my partner likes such as Friends, Desperate Housewives, normal Big Brother and (*shudders*) Will and Grace but you do have to make some sacrifices after all it's not like she enjoys watching the Ultimate Fighting Championships. I wish I'd not gotten as bothered as I have done over some world issues I can't do anything about
17) What was your favourite tv programme?
Well I discovered 24 which is truly amazing, Jack Bauer is a legend, I also finally watched The Sopranos which is also one of the greatest shows ever, but the best show by a mile I discovered this year was The Wire. Billed as a cop drama but with as much focus on the criminals and gang members as the cops, its supposed to be the single closest show to what goes on in real American police departments and one of the writers formerly was a cop who worked on several high profile wire tap drug cases and met similar frustrations to those depicted on the show. Plus the character Omar IS the greatest character I've ever seen in any film or tv show and that includes Tony Montana (anyone who knows me will know how strong a statement that is due to how much I love Scarface).
18) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate last year?
Yeah, plenty of people, the list keeps growing but its not worth getting into again, I need to let go of some of this hate anyway and forget about it.
19) What's been the best book of 2008?
I've only read one book that was written this year (I've read a fair few books though) and that was the second 'Ross Kemp On Gangs' book, a fascinating incite into the world of gangs and the crazy things Kemp has been through for his documentary, Kemp is one brave man who gets my respect.
20) What was your greatest musical discovery?
As a new discovery definitely The Hilltop Hoods, although I do prefer Braintax who I have known about for time but only recently really got into his solo stuff, most of what I had was from when he was in Taskforce.
It's also important to say this year I re-discovered my love of the Insane Clown Posse (due to a certain member on here telling me I should start reviewing them, cheers man!). Don't get me wrong, I'd never got to the point where I would have said I didn't like them but I hadn't listened to them for quite a while or bought any of their new stuff, that's changed dramatically.
21) What did you want to get in 2008?
Only Grand Theft auto IV that I can think of, oh and Sway's second album.
22) What did you want and didn't get?
An ipod docking station, but my ipod hard drive just died so no rush.
23) What is your favourite film of the year?
The Dark Knight, not many other films that were released this year really made much of an impact for me; I'm struggling to name more I really enjoyed that were made last year. Anyway the combination of Ledgers soon to be legendary performance as the Joker, Eckhart's under rated portrayal of Harvey Dent, and a much darker overall film was a winner in my book.
24) What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I went out and got drunk with my friends in one of the local pubs I've been drinking in for a long time, nothing to exciting but fun none the less, I was 27.
25) What political issue stirred you the most?
The de Menezes trial/case but I guess that's been going on for a fair while now, I'm actually going to pass on this question as I've already said one of my aims for this year is not to get as worked up about politics.
26) Who was the best person you met?
It's more people from my past that have re-surfaced more than new people, I've met a number of people within the last year I'd known years back when I was 18 and working in a rock bar in Newcastle, all good people if not a bit mad looking, met some great people on here and a couple on ciao.com.
27) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008?
You can't trust everyone you think you can.
'The Marshall Mathers LP' is the record breaking 2000 album from Detroit rap superstar Eminem, which would be his second mainstream LP and fourth in total. The album sold over 1.75 million copies in its first week of release, breaking all music records for first week sales (and Snoop Doggs record for rap music from Doggstyle's sales), it went 5 times platinum within its first month of release, making Eminem one of 3 rappers ever to do this, the others being legends 2pac and The Notorious BIG. The album has since sold over 22 million copies worldwide, is Eminems biggest selling album, and changed him from being a famous rapper to being a superstar in music in general and known worldwide.
This album is a far more serious and intelligent album than 'The Slim Shady LP' and deals with many dark subject matters, from the pressures of fame, Slims relationship with his daughter and her mother, and the way musicians are blamed for many tragic incidents such as the Columbine shootings. I feel the fact he chose to call the album 'The Marshall Mathers LP' reflects the serious nature of the album whilst the previous one was named after his alter ego and rap personality.
1 - Public Service Announcement 2000 (Intro)
2 - Kill You
The beats are very minimal on this one which only makes Eminem's raps stand out more, there's no real message or story in this track, its more just a chance for Eminem to be as offensive as possible and have a bit fun rapping, he's flows pretty aggressively but you'd have to with these subject matters, very violent and twisted imagery, not a bad by any means, Eminem's flow is quite impressive but there are better on here.
3 - Stan ft Dido
I don't think there's many people who like their music who wont have heard this one, the song that changed Dido's career from occasionally singing with Faithless, to a lucrative solo career singing a whole selection of songs that all sounded like her chorus on here, but none of which sounded as good.
This song is famous for the chorus but what many people have missed is just how dark this song actually is. The verses follow a progressing story of an obsessive fan writing to Eminem, with each verse the lyrics becoming darker and more frantic, with the penultimate verse involving the fan killing himself and his girlfriend, very dark, when this was first released many radio stations cut this verse out which completely missed the whole point of the song, a case of blind censorship almost.
4 - Paul (skit)
5 - Who Knew
To be honest I could copy and paste the majority of the description of 'Kill You' here and it would perfectly describe this track except this ones a little boring and doesn't quite have the same comedic value as 'Kill You'.
6 - Steve Berman (skit)
7 - The Way I Am
The second single from the album and one of my favourites, although there's song in which Eminem has tighter flows there's not many which are as thoughtful (ok outside of his talk about his child and ex-wife), Eminem takes shots at the media and his critics, the video involved a couple of brief appearances by Marilyn Manson, who Eminem references in the song over the fact MM (and Eminem's to a lesser extent) music was blamed for the tragic high school shootings in America, which is ridiculous but matches the way Eminem's music (at his peak) was blamed for a variety of things, which is also crazy in my view.
8 - The Real Slim Shady
I didn't like this track on release but listening back now its not as bad as I remembered, yeah it's basically a pop rap song but there's some funny lyrics, love the part in the video with Dr Dre on the milk carton, just a fun song.
9 - Remember Me ft RBX and Sticky Fingaz
Whoever chose these guests pulled of a masterstroke, RBX's voice sounds to me like what Nate Dogg would sound like rapping, whilst Sticky Fingaz is the lead rapper from Hip-Hop legends Onyx, one of the groups that I first listened to when I fully discovered rap as a 11 year old. Both rappers come strong with there verses, Sticky Fingaz for me has the strongest verse on the song, while Eminem raps things off nicely with a rap meeting the dark and plain insane tone of the song, each rapper takes a turn to perform the chorus with each one modifying it and using lines from their own songs previously released.
10 - I'm Back
Eminem basically looks back at what's changed since his released his last album and the ups and downs of success, I do like this one, Eminem's raps are tight, love his comments on N-Sync and the blatant shot at the pop world, a very funny if not offensive song, love it.
11- Marshall Mathers
Just a plain diss song in which Eminem has a shot at so many people it's not worth listing them all, but Eminem's biggest shots are saved for fellow Detroit rappers Insane Clown Posse and also the side of his own family that try and exploit him for money. I won't lie when I first heard this I was 18 and loved ICP more than any other act about and the verse on here (plus the next skit) put me off Eminem a bit, being a bit older and not really caring who disses who anymore listening back I do like this track, as far as diss songs go this is up there with the best, love the fact the music is so gentle in contrast to Slim's subject matter and tone.
12 - Ken Kanif (skit)
13 - Drug Ballad
Outside of the crazy acid imagery this is a fairly honest song about being on drugs, it doesn't glorify it in my opinion, but as Eminem is someone who openly admits to having taken many things you can get an informed picture, I'm sure many people who've taken anything in their time will be able to relate to parts of this song, great story telling in the raps
14 - Amityville ft Bizarre
Eminem teams up with fellow D12 and mate (and my favourite rapper outside of Eminem from the group) Bizarre for this track, quite dark beats, both rappers really come with some crazy lines, although Bizarre seems to have made a career from this, love the lyrics, the beats are slow but work well.
15 - Bitch Please II ft Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit and Nate Dogg
Pretty much a west coast all stars line up of rappers, the original 'Bitch Please' track was on Snoop's 'No Limit Top Dogg' album and feature Xzibit on the track, the production is unmistakably the master Dr Dre, this is just a proper gangster rap song with a west coast bounce, true G-Funk, love everything about this track, Dre for me has the best verse but all the rappers come strong.
16 - Kim
One of the more intense songs on the album, the music is base heavy and has a piano loop which really adds to the threatening effect of the song, I'm struggling to think of a truer depiction of domestic violence in a song than this one or a darker song in main stream rap since the days of the Geto Boys 'Uncut Dope' album, the entire track is basically about Eminem's ex Kim and the song eventually ends in her murder, its actually the prequel to the track '97 Bonnie and Clyde' from the Slim Shady LP and ends with the same clip of a body being dragged along the floor and put in the boot of a car as '97 Bonnie and Clyde' starts with, indicating the link between the two songs, very dark and powerful, this is one of the best examples of Eminem's lyrical skills, there is no humour in here and what makes it more powerful is that we're all aware the fact that Eminem is also in love with the women he's talking about as well as hating her so you really sense the emotional attachment in the track.
On a personal note I was once seeing a girl who was living in a shared flat with some of my mates, things weren't going well and I decided to end it before things got any worse, after we spoke she walked out the room and went to the bottom floor of the flat whilst I went to my mates room, next thing I knew she had this track playing on repeat at full volume on the downstairs stereo. My mate asked why she was doing this so I explained the situation and we decided it was probably a good idea to go out. As we were leaving the flat the girl in question was staring at me furiously, mouthing lyrics from this track, what a loon lol, I got out at the right time there.
17 - Under The Influence ft D12
A great song featuring all of D12, the group Eminem and 5 other Detroit rappers formed way back when they all kept meeting each other at the same rap nights, the 6 decided to form the group then if one of them was singed they would bring the others along with them, which is exactly what Eminem did. This is just a gangster rap track, there's no real message or story more just a track introducing us to D12, I do like this one.
18 - Criminal
I love this song, one of the funniest track Eminem has made and also one of the best ones I've seen him perform live, the beats are very bouncy and up tempo, while the lyrics are just pure comedy gold, I love rap music like this, some people, may be offended but its just funny to me, love the beats, they always make me bounce.
Overall for me a 9/10, this is one of the classic rap albums about and you'd be hard pressed to find a more influential album than this one in the rap world, without this one we would have no D12, no 50cent, Jay-Z wouldn't be the mega star he is today, and gangster rap would never have overtaken country and western as the biggest selling music on the planet. The album is littered with impressive tracks over minimal beats which only add to Eminem's messages and amplify his raps, recommended to all rap fans (although I prefer 'The Slim Shady LP').
'Live at the Fillmore' is the December 2000 release from rap heavyweights Cypress Hill, and would be the 8th EP/LP released by the group. The album was recorded at the groups live show at the world famous venue The Fillmore, in San Francisco on August 16, 2000, as the final gig in a nationwide tour.
The group consists of lead rapper B-Real, rapper Sen Dogg, DJ Muggs, and Eric Bobo the percussionist. All members of the band have a Latin influence, indeed B-real also has Cuban bloods, which all of them are very proud to represent through their music. The other main point about the band is their all massive stoners and rap about weed at almost any chance, although anyone who's ever heard the Hill will already know that. Cypress Hill truly established their own sound and are one of the most influential groups in music, not just rap.
(Sample information taken from Wikipediea)
1 - Hand on the Pump
From the second we hear Sen Dogs voice introducing Cypress to the stage you can almost hear the electricity in the crowd, the Hill kick things off with on of the most funky songs from their first album, a fitting way to start, I've always thought you can really hear the Hispanic influence in this track, the live show works perfectly for tracks like this with the addition to the group of percussionist Erik Bobo, who sounds like he's having a lot of fun, both rappers sound a bit frantic on this one, which is no surprise as their running around the stage, still sound wicked.
"Duke of Earl" by Gene Chandler
"Shotgun" by Junior Walker & the All Stars
2 - Real Estate
The Hill continue with the Hispanic funk from their first album with one another bouncy, sample heavy track, perfect for a live performance, the energy of this track is perfect for a live performance but is one of the tracks of which the studio version sounds better, still a fun track.
"Copy Cat" by the Bar-Kays
"Humpin'" by the Bar-Kays
"Underdog" by Sly & the Family Stone
"Sexy Coffee Pot" by Tony Avalon & the Belairs
"Cramp Your Style" by All the People featuring Robert Moore
3 - How I Could Just Kill a Man
One of the tracks that originally got Cypress Hill noticed, this one was a big hit on release, its still one of my favourite Cypress tracks, many producers have tried to copy this sound, but few have been able to replicate DJ Muggs. As anyone can guess by the title this is a typical gangster rap song about gang violence but to a higher level than most can achieve, love the intro with Erik Bobo's percussion solo, he also has a great solo at the end of the track, both rappers hit every rap on point, they must have performed this track thousands of times during their career, love the pumping base line.
"Tramp" by Lowell Fulsom
"Midnight Theme" by Manzel
"Come on In" by Music Machine
"Are You Experienced" by Jimi Hendrix
"Institutionalized" by Suicidal Tendencies
"Escape-ism", "I Got Ants in My Pants", & "I Got to Move" by James Brown
4 - Insane in the Brain
The group flow effortlessly into the next track, mixing the tracks smoothly into each other, chances are if you have ever heard Cypress you've heard this song, the original from the groups second release, Black Sunday, is one of the few tracks in gangster rap that has reached beyond the music world and found a place in popular culture, being referenced in everything from films, sitcoms, comedies, and the group even featured in The Simpsons performing it in the 'Hoomerpalooza' episode. Again the track is perfect for a live performance but the energy also works sitting here listening in my headphones, love this song, I'm guessing after the track was released there has never been a Cypress Hill concert in which this song wasn't performed.
"I'm Black And I'm Proud" by James Brown
"Good Guys Only Win In The Movies" by Mel & Tim
"All Over The World" by The Youngbloods
"Life" by Sly & The Family Stone
5 - Pigs
If I remember correctly this track was the B-side to the 'How I Could Just Kill a Man' single, and helped the groups exposure as much as the main single. I love the music to this one, it sounds so raw, an example of using 2 or 3 samples to perfection, the track basically a song in which CH vent their hate for the police, you can hear the crowd getting hyped up during this, love B-Real's vocals on this one.
"Ali; Funky Thing" by Chuck Cornish
6 - Looking Through the Eye of a Pig
We're treated to an extended intro to this track down to the fact B-Real leaves the stage briefly to put on a cop uniform, when he's ready to return Sen Dog chants him back to the stage to a chorus of boos when the crowd see how he's dressed, after a short interaction with the crowd and B-Real kicks into his raps, the track's premise is from the view of a corrupt police officer, with B-Real rapping as if he's the cop, love the story telling in this track, one of Cypress Hill's more clever tracks, there's nothing I don't like about this track, the music is very dark to match the subject matter.
7 - Cock the Hammer
This tracks being completely rocked up for the live show, now featuring some pretty heavy guitar, although I'm a big fan of the original the live version is just as good if not better, this is an example of Cypress Hill doing rap metal better than any other band ever except maybe Rage Against The Machine, both rappers flow aggressively, almost shouting but never falling into the mistake of losing rhythm, a very impressive live song.
8 - Checkmate
One of the early rap metal songs Cypress made, from the IV album, this one loses some of its effect live um my opinion, the lyrics on the original are performed at almost double time, so combining the speed of the raps with the almost over powering live band then this track becomes one of the weakest on the LP. I'm sure it was amazing if you were there live but not so good in my headphones.
9 - Can't Get the Best of Me
One of the tracks from the rock side of the Skull and Bones album, B-Real announces as the track begins it's one of his favourite songs, its pretty heavy, I can just see the mosh pit as this ones on, although considering the crowd is probably a mix of stoner hip-hop fans then maybe it's a touch calmer than I'm thinking, the music in the chorus is a touch over powering to the lyrics, but the verses are unaffected, it's a decent track but not one I listen to much.
10 - Lick a Shot
Again a rocked up version of the fairly chilled out if not dark original, the music is almost unrecognisable, this one works well but I prefer the more hip-hop sound of the original, another track with a lot of energy and intensity to it but a step up from the previous couple of songs, one of the better rock versions on here.
11 - A to the K
Yet another rock version of a very hip-hop sounding song, love both versions of this, the guitar on this one from the minute it kicks in is heavy and menacing, and I love it, the lyrics to this one work well with the rock backdrop, Sen Dog really lets loose during this song, B-Real manages to mix his laid back style into the song with ease, flipping between total aggression and his stoned laidback demeanour effortlessly.
12 - I Ain't Going Out Like That
Continuing the rock theme of this part of the show Cypress take one of their classics from Black Sunday, the rock version to this one is slightly easier to compare to the original than the other modified tracks, again I prefer the original, but still not a bad track.
"Wicked World" by Black Sabbath
"The Wizard" by Black Sabbath
13 - I Wanna Get High
No Cypress Hill show is complete without them paying a homage to their favourite plant and pastime, we get a fairly long intro involving B-Real encouraging anyone who has any weed in the crowd to light up and sing along with him, he did the same when I saw them, One of the most laid back songs in any music, I love everything about this one from the lyrics, the subject matter, to the music, B-Real raps this one with ease.
"Get Out Of My Life, Woman" by The New Apocalypse
"Taxman" by Junior Parker
"One Draw" by Rita Marley
14 - Stoned Is The Way Of The Walk
The weed theme continues as the Hill merge the tracks together again, this ones a decent track and sounds much like the original, its chosen more for the theme than its effectiveness live, still I do like it, and no Cypress show is complete without a few of this type of song.
"Down Here on the Ground" by Grant Green
15 - Hits From The Bong
One of my top 3 Cypress Hill songs, the music borrows heavily from the classic 'Son of a Preacher Man', this is the perfect and definitive stoner track for me, during this track the Hill have a huge bong onstage (it was a joint the size of a beer can when I saw them) which B-Real takes a hit from at the end of the lines -
Don't get me stirred up,
The smoke through the bubbling water,
Making it pure so I gotta,
Take my hit then I hold it,
Just like Chong I get the bowl and I re-load it,
Get that 4 footer then I bring it on,
Think I try hit that bong.
"Son Of A Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield
"Get Out Of My Life, Woman" by Lee Dorsey
"Don't Cha Hear Me Calling To Ya" by Junior Mance
16 - Riot Starter
After the few stoner songs we get right back into the rock show, Riot Starter was another one of the earlier rap metal tracks they made, from the IV album, this one suffers slightly in the same way as Checkmate did but to a lesser degree, the chorus works very well but some of the raps are lost a bit in the music.
17 - (Rock) Superstar
One of my favourite rap metal songs they've made, the original also has a rap version, both come from the Skull and Bones album, there's a pretty long intro to the track as B-Real talks to the crowd, once the track kicks in its plain to hear this one has lost something in the recording, some of the more intricate sounds in the song are over powered by the base and guitars, as is the rapping, a disappointing version that probably sounded fine if you were there but not in my headphones.
Overall a 8/10 score from me, although there are some weak tracks on here, overall this is one of the better live albums I've heard, Cypress Hill have a real passion for their music and have gone through many different stages in their career, the recording of this one being when they were in their rock phase which is very apparent when you hear so many hip-hop tracks rocked up for the live version. It's always interesting to hear musicians try something like this in a live performance and shows great confidence in their ability to switch things up and still captivate their audience, which was built on their rap sound.
'Analyse This' is the 2004 from Jamaican born but UK raised London rapper Taz, who moved to the UK at the age of 12. He is currently signed to Def Jam UK, a branch of the US Hip-Hop Heavyweight label Def Jam. From his beginnings as a DJ to his rapping career Taz managed to achieve a lot in a short amount of time, including producing 'Jus a Rascal' for Dizzee Rascal. He has an electric stage presence and a solid rhyme style which in my opinion may lead to him breaking through in America along side other top UK mc's Sway and Dizzee.
1 - Only God Can Judge Me
A great song to start the album with, love the production on this one, love the base line, Taz shows off his rapping ability throughout, reflecting on life and the music business, he's a very talented mc, love the following lines which pretty much sum up the UK rap scene -
These British A&R's wouldn't know talent if it slapped them in the face,
Telling me to sound like Mase,
I'm thinking of emigrating to the United States,
Because over here spitting real don't give you no breaks.
2 - Fast Talk ft Skorpian
Like the name the raps are delivered in double time, Taz does this effortlessly, you can understand everything he says despite the speed of his delivery, Skorpian's heavy Rastafarian accent is a bit more of a struggle to understand but you can do it, also he features almost more heavily than Taz on this song, love Taz's last verse, the production is very polished.
3 - Wish Me Luck
Taz reflects on the struggles of growing up in a poor, single parent household, he looks at how he overcame this and talks about how he will never forget where he came from, some very deep lyrics from the British mc, I do like the music, especially the violins and the piano.
4 - Cowboy Film ft Kardinal Official
The main single from the album and it's easy to see why, the production is some of the best on the album, mixing traditional rap beats with some double time beats and Spanish guitar, its basically a rap love song, with the chorus -
Girl you're beautiful,
Come spend the night with me,
We'll watch a cowboy film,
We'll play a cowboy scene,
Your boyfriend won't mind if you spend the night away,
Coz tonight's our night and tomorrow is his day.
Kardinal delivers some tight raps, there pretty sexually explicit, love it, he flips in and out of an almost Jamaican accent throughout his raps, Taz really shows of on here though, slowing his raps down and speeding them up at will, just a great British hip-hop song, the remix although sounding very different its even better and features my favourite rap from a UK mc ever from Sway, although its not on the album.
5 - Flow Pro
Taz continues his momentum on this track, more slick production with great use of a violin, the chorus is ok but nothing special, but like most rap songs this one is made on the verses, Taz uses a pretty stop start flow during much of this but surprisingly it works, love the lines -
It makes me laugh when I hear some of these mixtapes,
You think your yankee blood you need to get your mind straight,
And you accent mate,
It's all nonsense,
You know it to yourself you can hear it in your conscience.
6 - Left Leg In
Now I can never make up my mind on this one, the beats are almost grime, almost garage, almost hip-hop but just don't seem to settle down for me, I like the raps but that's not quite enough to really pull this one up for me, really don't like the chorus.
7 - Can't Contain Me
Originally the beats for this were supposed to be for Busta Rhymes but when Def Jam UK heard it they told Taz it had to be for him, and Can't Contain Me was born.
This ones pretty much Taz's anthem, when I saw him the place erupted when he was performing this, love the production on this, very polished, the beat is just wicked, Taz really sounds like he's having fun rapping, some nice lyrics, the guests all come strong.
8 - Only If You Try
Quite a soulful song, Taz raps about working hard in life to achieve things and how we should all be doing this, he actually sings the chorus, some intelligent lyrics throughout the song, its not often you'll hear such a thoughtful track in UK hip-hop.
9 - Lonely
An up-tempo song, another love song in the style only hip-hop makes, Taz raps about meeting a women who's going through problems with her man, and the process of seducing her and how much he likes her, a very clever song lyrically, this is my kind of modern love song, the production again is quality, love the guitar.
10 - Imagine
Arguably the best song on here, for me its definitely the song that provokes the biggest emotional reaction, this songs hits right through me, from the soulful singing, the laidback production and just top quality music, to the thoughtfulness of Taz's lyrics, for me songs like this effect me more than something like REM's 'Everybody Hurts'.
11 - Live And Learn
From one of the stronger tracks to one of the more average ones, Taz continues with his thoughtful lyrics, reflecting on mistakes he's made in life, how he's learnt from them and how he will continue to be strong in the face of life's problems, very clever lyrics but the music doesn't do too much for me.
12 - Change The Game ft Sprakett
Double time beats, double time raps, I love it, Taz's message through the song is how he's entered the rap world to change things and hit another level to other UK mc's, Sprakett comes with some very aggressive and menacing raps, talking about life on the streets as a drug dealer, quite a dark and threatening song all-round, Taz eclipses Sprakett on the song.
13 - Just Walk ft Marga Man
One of the funniest UK hip-hop songs I've ever heard, I love Marga Man, his voice is unlike any other person I can think of, very nasal tone but in a different way to say B-Real from Cypress Hill, the UK accent takes it to another place completely, very bouncy production sounding unlike anything else on here, the songs about how neither mc will help a women get home after sleeping with them, very light hearted lyrics, this one always makes me laugh, love the lines -
(Taz) I know what you think,
You think I'm rude,
Guess what I ain't in the mood,
I know when you go home you'll probably cuss me,
You'll be alright in the morning trust me.
(Marga Man imitating a female voice) 'Fine I'll just walk along the street!'
(Taz)Yeah you do that, I'm going to sleep!
Overall a 9/10 from me, this is a very strong album with very few weak points, I feel this is a gem that went by on its release without the acclaim it deserved although it certainly helped Tax gain a firm foothold in the UK rap scene, and also helped him get noticed across the sea in America, I have a mixtape somewhere I bought at the Sway, Taz, and Dizzee Rascal show I went to which has 50Cent giving shout outs to Taz and Marga Man so people in the US rap world are definitely aware of Taz's huge talent. Recommended to all rap fans.
If you wish to read more about the man I suggest you check out this interview which also gives us a bit of history about Taz -
The Slim Shady LP was the 1999 debut commercial album from Detroit rap superstar Eminem aka Slim Shady. Since its release you'd have to have been living in a cave not to have heard of Eminem, he's probably one of the most successful rappers ever, with a bank roll that only Dr Dre and Jay-Z and their business projects can compare to, love him or hate him Eminem is one of the all time greats in rap. The album debuted at #2 in the US Billboard Album charts and sold 283,000 copies in its first week, it has since gone 5x Platinum.
Eminem originally released the 'Infinite' EP as a debut in 1996 on an independent record label, when speaking of the record Eminem says -
"Obviously, I was young and influenced by other artists, and I got a lot of feedback saying that I sounded like Nas and AZ. Infinite was me trying to figure out how I wanted my rap style to be, how I wanted to sound on the mic and present myself. It was a growing stage. I felt like Infinite was like a demo that just got pressed up."
Whilst Infinite was a testing ground for the young mc, The Slim Shady LP can truly be credited with Eminem finding his true style.
Eminem would gain exposure entering the rap Olympics, a mixture of battles and freestyles, Eminem would be robbed in the final to a African-American rapper, with the general consensus that they had ruled again Slim because he was white, never the less head of Interscope Records Jimmy Iovine saw his talent and requested a demo. Iovine later took the demo to Dr Dre, who quickly signed the Detroit mc and started the beginning of a long partnership which would involve both rappers (and producers) working on each of the others albums as they were made, Dre has appeared on all of Eminems albums, whilst Eminem has made several tracks with Dre. The rest as they say is history.
(Sample information taken from Wikipediea)
1 - Public Service Announcement (intro)
2 - My Name Is
I still clearly remember the first time I saw the video for this (also the first time I'd seen or heard of Eminem), my first reaction was 'What the hell is this, a white rapper? Isn't that Dr Dre! This is really good, who the hell is this?'
A funny track that may have aged a little over the years but still entertains, I've heard this is one of Slim's least favourite songs and, like most of the album, he certainly didn't perform it either time I've seen him live, the beats are pretty silly but match the subject matter, a great song to introduce yourself to the world.
"I Got The" by Labi Siffre
"Back in Black" by AC/DC
"I Don't Love You" by Millie Jackson
3 - Guilty Conscience ft Dr Dre
Still to this day one of Eminem's greatest songs, he really has a great chemistry with Dre, the premise of the song is there's 3 different situations, a possible robbery, a sexual encounter with an underage girl, and a husband catching his wife cheating, with Eminem and Dre playing the voices of each of the men involved consciences, Eminem being the bad side and Dre the voice of reason, love the story telling throughout, just a clever track from start to finish, love Dre's part in the final encounter.
"Go Home Pigs" by Ronald Stein
4 - Brain Damage
Eminem's lyrics on this one really show the fact he grew up listening to the underground Detroit rap scene, dominated by Horrorcore rap acts Esham, Natas, and of course Insane Clown Posse. The lyrics are pretty crazy, with Eminem rapping about many different violent encounter as he was growing up, this ones storytelling not fact, not many rappers would make a track like this, Eminem raps with pure anger on this one, just a insane track with a pumping base line.
5 - Paul (skit)
6 - If I Had
A thoughtful track about life and the things Eminem is sick of, I'm guessing these days it's been a long time since Eminem had to do (or be) many of these things anymore, quite a deep song for Shady, very laidback production, it's interesting to look at this track now and look at how far he's come in his career since.
7 - 97' Bonnie & Clyde
If your not listening to the lyrics this one probably sounds like a laid back love song, if you are listening then you'll have realised the tracks about Eminem having killed his daughters mother, Kim, and is taking the body to dump off the pier, a very dark subject matter in total contrast to the music, but that's the whole point, Slim shows signs of his story telling ability which would develop over the years into one of the strongest in commercial hip-hop, a good song.
"Just the Two of Us" by Grover Washington Jr.
8 - Bitch (skit)
9 - Role Model
One of Eminem's more critical (and better) songs towards the general music world and how performers are idolised as role models and how ridiculous that is, I love the lyrics, Slim really goes off on one with multi-syllable rhymes and what many would deem just plain offensive lyrics, I love it, the message of this song is right though in my opinion, too many people try to be like performers musical personalities just that little bit too much.
10 - Lounge (skit)
11 - My Fault
Eminem continues with rhymes and subject matters most in the commercial rap world wouldn't have dared touch at this point in time with a song about taking mushrooms and the girl he's given them too taking too many and going on a very bad trip, the beats are pretty crazy, very base heavy and basic, I can't think of many songs like this one, more great story telling from Em.
12 - Ken Kanfif (skit)
13 - Cum On Everybody
The beats on this one during the verses sound like an old-school hip-hop beat, think Grandmaster Flash style, while they switch up into a more modern sound for the chorus, I do like the sound on this one, the lyrics are all over the place and don't really have any theme, there more a chance for Eminem to show of his skills and use more multi-syllable rhymes, I wonder how much of this one was a freestyle in the studio, it certainly sounds that way.
"Gimme What You Got" by Le Pamplemouse
14 - Rock Bottom
Quite a deep, dark, and depressing song, very thoughtful, I love this track, it's one of those dark songs I listen to when my moods in a similar place, I always find myself bobbing my head to this one but any smile I have is wiped off quickly, this song does exactly what it needs to.
"Summertime" by Big Brother & The Holding Company
15 - Just Don't Give A F*ck
Another one of my favourites on here, the lyrics are top quality on this one, Em doesn't really have anymore to say than the fact he 'Just don't give a f*ck' what other people do or say, this is another I remember hearing for the first time and just sitting back listening to the track 4 or 5 times in a row being amazed at the lyrics and Eminem's rapping ability, I wish he'd do more tracks like this these days, I also have a pretty clear memory getting excited about how good this song was with one of my old basketball team mates but anyway, the beats are some of my favourite on here, the kind you only find in rap, songs like this are the reason I love hip-hop.
16 - Soap (skit)
17 - As The World Turns
Another crazy story telling track, I wont lie the story is violent, and involves talk of drugs and sexual abuse, I also won't lie when I say I really like this one and the whole story, it's so cleverly done and its not like any of us haven't seen worse in a film or TV show, I guess it's also worth noting it takes a lot more than most to offend me when it comes to this sort of subject matter, Eminem raps so effortlessly its ridiculous, a dark song but also a great one.
18 - I'm Shady
Much like 'My Name Is' this track is sort of like an introduction to Eminem and full of comedic lyrics, the music bares little similarity though, the production sounds that little bit smoother, and the sound is much funkier and soulful, love the chorus, love the fact Eminem doesn't care how much he mocks himself.
"Pusherman" by Curtis Mayfield
19 - Bad Meets Evil ft Royce da 5'9"
Very early in their careers these two rappers actually used to perform together as a group under the name 'Bad Meets Evil', so that's were the track name comes from, I'm aware these two guys used to be friends but have fallen out in recent years, Royce comes with one of his career best raps, but he can't really match Slim, when Eminem starts with the multi-syllable lines he just kills Royce, Royce fires back with some multi-syllables of his own which are impressive and make for a great song, but Eminem is the one who stands out here.
"Me & My Girlfriend" by 2Pac
20 - Still Don't Give A F*ck
I love this one as much as I love 'Just Don't give a F*ck', again the subject matter is the same as is the quality of the lyrics, Eminem gives his clearest sign of his Detroit Horrorcore rap influence with the line -
'I'm a cross between Manson, Esham and Ozzie.'
For those that don't know Detroit underground rapper Esham is often credited with originating a style of rap called Horrorcore, with lyrics involving subject matters such as cannibalism, necrophilia, voodoo/black magic, the devil, and murder, basically a horror film on a record. The true start of Horrorcore can be traced back to the Geto Boys 'Uncut Dope' album with tracks such as 'Assassins', 'Mind of a Lunatic', and 'Chuckie', but there is no doubt Esham made the style his own, with Brotha Lynch Hung and Insane Clown Posse being the other notable artists to adopt this style, although ICP never rapped about the Devil. So it's clear from this where Eminem got the more crazy and offensive side of his rapping from. The chorus on this song really stands out for me as the definition of Eminem's attitude -
For all the weed that I've smoked,
Yo this blunts for you,
To all the people I've offended,
Yeah f*ck you too,
For all the friends I used to have,
Yo I miss my past,
But the rest of you ass holes can kiss my ass,
For all the drugs that I've done,
Yo I'm still gonna do,
To all the people I've offended,
Yo f*ck you too,
For everytime I reminisce yeah I miss my past,
But I still don't give a f*ck ya'll can kiss my ass.
Overall a 9/10 from me for the album, very few mc's have made a debut LP so strong, ok Eminem had other releases earlier in his career ('Infinite' and 'The Slim Shady EP' come to mind) but this was his break through record, helped by the backing of Dr Dre and Aftermath records, at a time when almost no record company would gamble on a white rapper Dre saw past the skin colour and saw the unlimited talent in Slim and took a chance, thank god he did as this record allowed a wealth of talented white rappers the chance to break through in the commercial scene. Eminem always struggled to match the sound of the record on future releases; 'The Marshall Mathers LP' was the only one of his albums for me to do so, this for me is the man working to the best of his ability, I recommend this to all rap fans, a true classic.
I've done a lot of things over my life to embarrass myself, many when drunk which didn't bother me one bit when they happened but certainly did the next morning once I'd sobered up (I know I'm not alone there), some when I hadn't touched a drop. I'm going to look at two particular incidents in my life; one there isn't too much to tell about, another is maybe a touch longer.
The first incident happened on a family holiday to sunny Florida when I was about 15. We'd had a long day of theme parks, blistering hot weather and travelling about on random buses, and I, being in my moody teenager stage, had become particularly fed up for some reason or the other, probably being forced to watch some of the shows in Disney. There was no real reason for it but hey I was a teenager, anyway we decided to visit an all you can eat restaurant for the evening meal, everything was going fine, we were showed to our tables, pointed towards the food and plates and allowed to get what we want.
Once back to the table with my food I was still in a foul mood but there was burgers to be eaten, I reached for the tomato sauce and, being an idiot, shook it with considerably more force than was needed. As I violently shook the top of the bottle flew across the restaurant closely followed by the sauce, covering 2 tables behind me, the table in front of me, all across the walls, and of course myself and my family. So there I am sitting in the middle of a packed restaurant, sauce everywhere, people looking a mixture of angry and confused, myself covered in tomato sauce, holding the by now empty bottle of sauce looking back at at least 60 people starring at me, I could have died right there and then, to say I was horrified was an understatement. Thankfully the waiters found it hilarious and watched the whole thing and changed our, and the people around us, tables. My parents refused my request to leave.
Right incident number two happened about 4 years ago in a hotel in Paris, France. Now bare with me on this one as I need to give a bit background on what I did leading up to the incident.
My cousin was getting married in a small village outside Paris, her family are rich to put it bluntly and were having the wedding before and after do's in what I can only describe as something that looked the size of 4 castles together which was a good job with the amount of people there, whilst I couldn't actually see the ends of one part of the grounds it was so big. My cousin, her husband, and practically all their friends are Oxford graduates and toffs, well my cousin wasn't at this point, haven't seen her in a while so she may be one now.....only joking Shev, but your starting to get the picture, masses of toffs and little old Geordie me and my brother stuck in the middle, yeah I couldn't have been much more out of place.
At the reception in the morning there was free flowing champagne, and good stuff I must say, but not being a champagne or even wine drinker I could feel the drink going straight to my head, but none the less I carried on drinking. The room drank all the champagne that was for the morning so they broke out the spirits, by which point my brother being the younger and the one without a skin head was being dragger about by my auntie to be introduced to various people he would never meet again, causing me to have to entertain myself while I sat there half cut. I had a pin strip suit on so I decided to get a straight gin as that what Tony Montana drinks in Scarface, thats the sort of drunk logic I was thinking at this point, needless to say a straight gin is not good. So to wash the taste away from that I drank some brandy, to go on top of x amount of champagne and a large straight gin, this before the wedding had started.
Surprisingly the wedding went fine and I didn't do anything of notable drunkenness. We went to the dinner and party back where we started the day, and immediately the free alcohol started rolling again with the meal, so a couple more brandy's and I was feeling pretty good, I was happily ignoring all the posh people around me looking down their nose at Shevaun's skin head, drunk cousin, a couple more drinks and the disco started at which point they announced they were setting up a free bar at the back of the hall for us to get our drinks from, and now they had larger. So after being unable to get any larger now I had as much as I wanted, for free, and all I had to do was walk to the back of the room. I'll not go on too much but I had many more largers after the first, danced drunkenly for a bit, ran around the grounds jumping through a few bushes until it was time to go back to the hotel in Paris.
Now I can barley remember the cab trip back to the hotel but I'm told by my family I was pretty loud in the cab trying to talk to the non English speaking cab driver, a small taste of what was to come. We got back to our hotel and I collapsed in a drunken stupor in the room I was sharing with my brother, incidentally room no.1. Now the next few hours are pretty unclear but after the days drinking session in which I probably drank more than I'd ever done before and not been sick nothing should really be a surprise.
For some reason unknown to me at about 2am I decided to leave my room and go looking for something, I use the word something as I have no idea just why I wandered off. Now I stumble round a bit and then try to return to my room, which is locked and of course I don't have a key. My brother had also has a few drinks and wasn't waking up when I banged on the door, so I found my way to the front desk and started to try and speak to the clerk. The clerk looked horrified, maybe at the fact he spoke little English, maybe at the fact how loud I was being, maybe at the Geordie slang, or even how much I smelt of drink. I ignored this at first and when he asked which room it was I said no.1 and pointed in the wrong direction, so he was dubious and shouted for someone else. When the next guy came he also had a sort of distressed look on his face, at which point it hit me more sobering than an ice bath, my own moment of clarity - I was in the middle of the foyer in a vest and boxer shorts, boxer shirts which weren't really hiding much. I was horrified, at which point I could only really cover myself up as best possible, I couldn't apologies anymore and was wishing I'd paid more attention in French class but thankfully they let me back in my room. Too this day my brother is the only family member who knows about the incident, but I got some funny looks and points from some of the staff the next day at breakfast and as we left. I'm cringing right now at the thought of the whole incident, was a good drinking session though!
Ah the much coveted Dooyoo crowns, the dangling carrot of the bonus £1.50 and the much debated system, where to begin. Currently I stand at 21 crowns from 109 reviews, not too bad, about an average of 1 crown per 5 or 6 reviews. I have to say I'm always pleased when I get a crown but the whole system has me confused.
In the beginning I thought reviews had to be crazily long and full of all sorts of detail to even be considered, I mean my first review on Grand Theft auto IV I spent a lot of time on and covered nearly everything I thought I could, but for weeks the review was barely even read let alone crowned. Fair enough I thought as I then decided churning was the way forward as I was never going to compare to some of the other writers on this site, and there is some ridiculously talented writers on here, and I continued on knocking out 4 or 5 reviews a day of a lower quality for a bit, gradually getting a little better but still writing stupid reviews on stuff like biscuits, until I wrote my first Insane Clown Posse Review, on the great Milenko. I put a lot of effort into that one (as I do for all my ICP ones) and although that was also not crowned as I hoped it made me realise I enjoyed writing bigger reviews, but the lack of recognition at the time was still in the back of my head.
Then it happened, a couple of weeks later I received 3 crowns at once, all on different topics, I couldn't believe my luck and felt pretty good about it, I received a couple of congratulations messages and then started writing more. Next week I again received more crowns, and a few weeks later I actually got 5 in one go, I thought it was 4 until checking again. I had convinced myself I had it all figured out, the secret to getting more crowns than not, how wrong I was.
Many of my uncrowned reviews I've always thought were better than some of my crowns, then others I can't part them, I tried things like putting lyrics from every song in the reviews (not needed but some got crowned), adding every little bit of information I could possibly think of or find, that doesn't always work either, to spending a crazy amount of time reading and rating to boost my chance. Then, again, something mad happened.
In the middle of October my first review, the Grand Theft Auto IV one from August, was crowned, with a grand total of 23 reads at the time and one nomination mentioned in the comments (cheers, you know who you are). Now I just don't know what to think, I mean this obviously means any of your reviews could be crowned at any point but what make the difference from one week to another? Is it down to who reads it or how many nominations you get as I've had reviews with over 25+ nominations mentioned in the comments that havent been crowned, and just how many people decided on these crowns? What sort of things could we really say makes a crownable review, the amount of different styles of crowned ones I've read is pretty big, from reviews on simple things like cameras to reviews on more creative things how to survive Zombie attacks, so there is a chance for any subject to get one.
Many people believe if your a guide you have a better chance of earning one, this may or may not be true but one fact many people over look is the fact most guides have been chosen because they are very good writers, its not a surprise to me that many of them take home a lot of crowns, generally the quality is very high compared to many people on this site, although I do see some peoples frustrations as there are some very good writers who don't get the recognition they deserve on here.
True many peoples writing ability will obviously earn them many more crowns than others, this is just down to quality and effort, no one can argue with that, but if your someone who doesn't think they have a chance at getting one I would say just stick with it, put the effort in and you'll be rewarded soon enough.
III Temples of Boom is the 1995 album from Hip-Hop legends Cypress Hill. The band had broken onto the scene in 1991 with their self titled debut album which went four times platinum, after that unexpected success the Hill were pressured by their record label to get another record made, Black Sunday, which would spawn many Cypress Hill classics and the first number one single from the new breed of rap in America with 'Insane In the Brain'. Cypress Hill admits Black Sunday wasn't as good as they could have made it due to the time constraints put on them but it was hard to fault much with the record. Finally after having time but no money for their first release, then money but no time for their second, Cypress had the luxury of both money and time on their hands to make their next record, III Temples of Boom. To me this record is the true hip-hop sound of Cypress Hill, something they couldn't achieve with their first record and something the need for hit records and hasty production prevented with their second.
The group at the time consisted of lead B-Real, rapper Sen Dogg, and DJ Muggs, although have since added Eric Bobo as a percussionist since their move to a more guitar based sound. All three members of the band have a Latin influence, indeed B-real also has Cuban bloods, which all of them are very proud to represent through their music. The other main point about the band is their all massive stoners and rap about weed at almost any chance, although anyone who's ever heard the Hill will already know that.
1 - Spark Another Owl
To kick things off we have a laid back, dark track about smoking weed, as well as standing alone as a track this one also works well as an intro to the album with some of the mentions in the lyrics, the dark sound of the track is a small taste for what's to come.
2 - Throw Your Set in the Air
I remember hearing this track on radio one when it was released as a single and all the cursing was played backwards, it sounded so odd. Anyway, this track gives us Cypress Hill's version of the traditional 'throw your hands in the air' line, Cypress would never use such a over played, commercial line so their own version, 'thrown your set in the air', instead means your gang and has threats of violence throughout the song. I love this track, it's one that makes my head bounce, the music is really tightly produced, love the organ which really adds to the menace of the track.
3 - Stoned Raiders
This one has a haunting beat, the female opera like singing in the background only intensifies this, the lyrics are nice but nothing to special, it's quite a short track and does what's required.
4 - Illusions
One of the Hill's greatest and darkest tracks, from the long intro of voices, Indian guitar and drums with psychedelic over throws you know this ones going to be special, the opening lines could quite possibly be my favourite opening to any song ever -
Some people tell me that I need help,
Some people can f*ck off and go to hell.
Not very subtle I know but you get the message, the song continues just as strong, B-Real brings his 'A' game to this one, he's got a sound unlike any other I can think of the production is as polished as ever from DJ Muggs.
5 - Killa Hill Niggas feat U-God and The Rza from the Wu-Tang Clan.
Love this Rza produced song, you can always count on B-Reals raps who kicks the track off, the Rza comes in with his own unique style next, then U-God probably has the best verse I've ever heard from him outside of a Wu-Tang album, love the raps on this one, while the Rza brings his own special style of production to the beats, love Sen Dogg's shouts in Spanish.
6 - Boom Biddy Bye Bye
More dark beats in this pretty normal gangster rap track, no raps on anything out of the ordinary but everything is delivered well and the lyrics aren't predictable, Sen Dogg makes his first rapping appearance for a few songs.
7 - No Rest for the Wicked
This tracks a diss song directed towards Ice Cube after their disagreement and was the start of their feud, it's not often you hear B-Real, the laid-back, Latin-American stoner sound this angry but he flows with real venom, picking Ice Cube apart on many things he's done over his career.
8 - Make a Move
Sampling one of the greatest movie scenes ever, Samuel Jackson's Ezekiel 25:17 speech from Pulp Fiction to start the song you expect a dark harsh gangster song full of violence, but what we get is a bouncy song which ok is still dark and full of violence, but this is a bit more upbeat than most of the album so far. Love everything about this one from the music to the raps and of course the intro.
9 - Killafornia
This ones a good song but doesn't really stand out to much from the rest of the album, the productions nice, dark and in keeping with the overall sound of the record, there's nothing to fault with the lyrics, worth the listen but I'm going to move on.
10 - Funk Freakers
Much like the last track this one fits well with the theme of the album, Muggs is the master of making such dark but laid back sounds as this, much of the song is about smoking weed, a stoners track.
11 - Locotes
Another great song, so dark, the police sirens in the middle fit so well with the lyrics, although you probably need to hear it to understand that, the tracks pretty much about being a gangster in the more urban sense, committing robberies etc, both rappers come strong with their rhymes.
12 - Red Light Visions
A short track, this one has a pumping base, B-Real sounds pretty angry on this one as he raps about all the fake mc's in hip-hop, people saying keep it real in their songs but contradicting everything they say.
13 - Strictly Hip-Hop
Another one of my all time favourite songs from Cypress Hill, this song, outside of the weed smoking, is basically everything Cypress represent and are about, again a candidate for me for greatest opening lines of all time -
I never rapped on a r'n'b record and I never will,
You got these phoney mother f*ckers talking about keep it real,
But they don't know how to take their own advice,
Going out doing soda water advertisements.
I love the overall message of this song, if more people in the rap world would take this advice then rap in general would be of a higher quality.
14 - Let It Rain
One of the more up-tempo songs on here, Let it Rain still has a very menacing sound, but at the same time you cant help but bob to this one, B-real raps at a faster pace than much of the album, he has no problems with this, another great song.
15 - Everybody Must Get Stoned
Did anyone really expect Cypress not to have another song about smoking weed on the album, and this one's in my opinion the best they've ever done, such a mellow sound, many times in the past I've been sitting around with some of my good friends listening to this one, I never tire of this track, some really nice cuts on the song, it's clear Cypress Hill, (and many of their fans from what I gather) love smoking marijuana.
Overall a 9/10 (very close to 10/10) for an album that stands up to any hip-hop album in history in my opinion, and represents to me Cypress Hill's best work, this is one of raps classic albums, I recommend this to all rap fans, if you like Cypress Hill and don't have this album you should seek it out as soon as possible, I've been listening to this since the first week it was released and have never tired of it
The 'One for the Journey EP' is the 2007 EP released by UK rapper Sway aka Sway Desafo, real name Derek Desafo, used mainly as a way to keep Sways name out there with new music whilst he worked on his second album. Sway's often called the hardest working man in UK hip-hop and for good reason, he's constantly making new music, often collaborating with a massive range of different musicians from Akon to Lupe Fiasco, while always working on his career plan for 5 albums before retiring, using mixtapes and samplers to help promote himself and release more music between his main records to greater effect than any British mc before him. Sway's early releases, 'This is my Promo vol 1 & vol 2', to me are the definitive UK mixtapes, and caused an explosion of different mixtapes being released from every UK rapper from Kano to JME.
I've followed Sways career closely for years now ever since hearing him on Taz's 'Cowboy Film remix' in which Sway delivered one of the greatest raps I've ever heard and still in my top 10 raps of all time. It's this appearance, plus the mixtapes, that really got Sway noticed in the rap world, receiving wide acclaim from all over the UK and as far as US stars such as The Wu-Tang and even Beyonce, which caused a flood of labels wanting to sign Sway. Mr Desafo however has a very clear vision of what he wants to do with his career and refused to sign with anyone on the terms offered, instead releasing his debut album 'This is my Demo' on an independent distribution label through his own Dcypha Productions so as to keep full creative control, something few rappers really have. Sway also received massive exposure across America by winning the BET Hip-Hop awards 'Best UK Hip-Hop Act' and then being seen by millions freestyling on a rooftop with Saigon, Rhymefest and Remy Ma, which would later appear on DJ Slay's mixtape Drama Season Begins Now.
Sway's lyrics are often full of comedic lines and scathing attacks on the fake fronts many rappers put on. He has a massive stage presence which I've been privileged enough to see three times (one of which he performed in a black and white shirt!), I remember him supporting The Streets and for me him pretty much making the show, definitely more my thing than Mike Skinner, although I did enjoy his show too and it's not really fair comparing the twos rapping abilities.
1 - True Stories
Before the track kicks in we get a quick intro reminding us this isn't Sways second album but 'the prequel to the sequel'. The song's basically about the UK and the bleaker points of living here, love the beats which come at us at almost double time, the drum machine is very predominant, very polished production which I was both impressed and surprised to find was done by Sway himself, some clever lyrics on this one.
2 - Move Back feat. Chiefer
One of the best produced tracks on the EP, the more I listen to it the more I like it, love the violins, Sway raps about the realities of his success, the darker side of his life and some of the crazy things he's been through, he moves effortlessly between double time raps to standard bars without it ever sounding like he's missed a beat, the truly is a rapper comparable with any mc in the world, Chiefer's rap's nice but doesn't touch Sways, while Sway slightly modifies some Biggie Smalls lyrics for part of the chorus, from 'Notorious Thugs' off the 'Life After Death' album -
You would too,
If you knew,
What this game would do to you,
Been in this from two double o two,
Look at all the mad things I've been through
3 - Baby Father
Both one of my favourite Sway songs and one of his funniest, all three verses have a different story about Sway and encounters with different women, the first having a child with her and claiming Sway's the father, the second with a man in jail Sway didn't know about, and the third one seeing Sway and another man at the same time, each verse is very funny, I prefer the second but they all make me laugh, I love the fact Sway doesn't take himself as seriously as many rappers you see putting on a front claiming to be gangsters and has no problem making a track like this. The beats are so dirty they aren't far from being UK grime.
4 - Up Your Speed Part 2 feat. Chamillionaire
The story of how Sway ended up working with US rap heavyweight Chamillionaire is the English man was asked to provide a verse for the Ridin' Remix to feature on the B-Side of the Ridin' single, Sway agreed but when asked how much he wanted paid he said nothing but he wanted Chamillionaire to do a song with him which the Houston, Texas rapper agreed, and Up Your Speed Part 2 was born.
Both rappers mix double time and normal raps throughout the track, Chamillionaire starts the song of with some sick lines which include some mentions of random English things, Sway's first verse quickly kicks in and its plain to hear he won't be outdone by the American mc, both rappers bounce of each other and really work well together, both have such a clear flow its possible to understand every word when they're rapping double time, which with many peoples voices it's difficult.
5 - Ex Boyfriend
A bouncy track, I'm not quite sure what's going on with the beats but there's definitely some distortion used on the sound, it's all over the place, but surprisingly works, the songs a story of Sway being in a relationship with a girl who is struggling to get over her ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, not many rappers would make a song like this but its just another example of Sways versatility.
6 - Every Man (For Himself) feat. Mr Hudson
If you recognise the lyrics to this one then that's because this songs a re-vocal of the remix to 'Products', the first single from 'This is My Demo', well done if you did recognise that but I'm guessing most probably wouldn't. To be fair the lyrics fit well over the track and Mr Hudson's singing decent, a very laid back sounding song with a very soulful chorus.
7 - Get 'Em High (Stanton Warriors feat. Sway)
Before hearing this track I'd never heard of the Stanton Warriors but a quick trip to wikipediea tells us they are a DJ and Producers team consisting of Dominic Butler and Mark Yardley. They mainly work on nu skool beats and electronic dance music.
The beats are almost a throwback to the early pioneers of rap such as African Bambata, this does sound old school, Sway as ever flows with the beat as if he's been doing tracks like this his whole career, I can't fault his raps at all.
Overall an 8/10 for me pushing 9/10 but the fact its so short stops me giving it this mark, Sway is one of the most skilled and clever lyricists in the UK and indeed the entire rap world, I recommend him to any rap fans, a very strong EP which can be picked up for a small price.
'IV' is the 1998 album from rap legends Cypress Hill, and unsurprisingly their fourth LP. The album currently stands at Gold record sales and to many this is one of the most under rated albums in rap music, DJ Muggs describes it as his favourite Cypress release, while Rolling Stone said -
'Cypress Hill's most bangin' LP since their 1991 debut....Cypress Hill still name-check firearms, threaten rivals and smoke more weed than a congregation of Rastas. But the obsessions are means to an end.'
The group consist of lead rapper B-Real, rapper Sen Dog, and DJ Muggs, although the group later added percussionist Eric Bobo, and before they were successful and went under the name DVX they also had Mellow Man Ace as part of their groups, although he left in 1988. They currently have sold over 17 million records worldwide and are often included in lists of the most influential bands of all time.
1 - Looking Through the Eye of a Pig
One of the best story telling tracks Cypress Hill have ever made, the track is rapped from the perspective of corrupt cop's, looking at the darker side of police life, at how cop's can also be very bad people with their own personal demons, often when Cypress play this live B-Real will put a police uniform on, it's clear from the track CH opinions on police are exactly the same as the rest of the rap world, some very dark lyrics in here, the beats match the subject matter with a slow and menacing sound.
2 - Checkmate
A very up tempo track with fast raps to match, the piano works well, this is a typical Cypress Hill track that if you compare to say something from Black Sunday you can really see the progression in their music.
3 - From the Window of My Room
The raps on this track are very well written and quite intelligent, basically about the amount of fake people in rap, the productions pretty nice and features some haunting violins, the track ends with a funny interlude featuring stoner legend Tommy Chong.
4 - Prelude to a Come Up feat MC Eiht
One of the best produced tracks you'll find in rap, the piano compares to Dr Dre's best work, while getting legend and former member of Comptons Most Wanted MC Eiht on the track was a master stroke, this song combines a laid back relaxing style with a menacing threatening sound which is quite difficult to mix to this effect, I really don't have anything bad to say about this one, the lyrics and production are both excellent.
5 - Riot Starter
A more rap-metal sounding song than much of the album, and a prelude of the style Cypress would adopt for their following album 'Skull and Bones', B-Real's nasal tones light up the verses, while a combination of Sen Dog whispering and shouting on the chorus really adds to the effect of the track.
6 - Audio X featuring Barron Ricks
A very Hispanic hip-hop sounding track, the beats work very well, this track is pure and simply the sound Cypress Hill created and does better than anyone else, an almost psychedelic sound, B-Real delivers some sick double time raps that, unlike many rappers, you can understand every word of, he's one of the best in hip-hop at this style I don't know why he doesn't use it more.
7 - Steel Magnolia featuring Barron Ricks
Another track with dark, polished production and tight raps, the music reminds me of a RZA track, a bit like some of the score he made for the Kill Bill movies.
8 - I Remember That Freak Bitch featuring Barron Ricks
One of my favourites on here, its a typical gangster rap song about women of less than high moral standards, brilliant, he story telling is as good as you'll find in rap as each mc uses their verse to continue their own stories, the music is excellent, nothing to complex, some tight beats looped for a good deal of the track so the rappers verses stand out more.
9 - (Goin' All Out) Nothin' to Lose
This track reminds me of a mix between the rap-metal of Riot starter and the pure hip-hop of Audio X, quite a fast paced track with some of Sen Dog's best raps on the album, there's nothing to special here but it is a decent track and worth a listen.
10 - Tequila Sunrise featuring Barron Ricks
From the first time I heard the Spanish guitar at the start of this track I knew I was going to love it, one of the single greatest Cypress Hill songs ever, the guitar plays throughout which I love, the lyrics are a gangster story about someone who taught B-Real the rules of 'the game', the production on this one is unlike pretty much anything else I can think of in rap, the horns are pretty crazy too.
11 - Dead Men Tell No Tales
A very short track, quite dark sounding, I do like it, B-Real raps very aggressively on this, a violent track which you may have guessed, some odd sounds mixed in there too.
12 - Feature Presentation featuring Barron Ricks and Chace Infinite
To me the worst track on here, the music is pretty dull and doesn't really go anywhere for me, while the raps don't really have much to them, with B-Real making everyone else sound like amateurs by the end of the song (he never fails to sound good).
13 - Dr Greenthumb
What a great song, the intro is pretty long, years ago I had it as my answer phone message on my mobile until one day I got a call from the police (I wasn't in trouble) who thankfully saw the funny side of it, although I quickly changed it after that, anyone who's heard the intro will know where I'm coming from, the song is basically a story, B-Real is Dr Greenthumb, a man who's an expert in growing weed, the whole track is about growing and smoking it, the base line is heavy and pumping throughout the track, one of Cypress Hills more famous tracks and also their funniest video ever.
14 - 16 Men Till There's No Men Left
This tracks chorus is almost like a sea shanty, quite a odd sounding track with some crazy sound effects and strings, this track is one when I don't concentrate on I don't realise just how good it is, there's so many little effects in this one it's easy to miss some of them, a triumph for DJ Muggs and his production.
15 - High Times
Another Cypress Hill song about smoking marijuana, they always have at least 3 songs on each album dedicated to their favourite past time, this time they reminisce on when they first started smoking weed, the different kinds they got, the experiences they went through trying to buy it, and how different it was then as opposed to this point in their lives when they can buy whatever they want, as you would imagine the beats are ultra laid back, this track was made for people to listen to and do the same thing as Cypress are talking about.
16 - Clash of the Titans
An average sounding song, B-Real does his best to rescue the song but can't I'm afraid, there's nothing particularly wrong with this one just nothing special about it.
17 - Lightning Strikes
Much like Riot starter this one goes straight in top the rap-metal and the style they would use on their following album, love the guitar, Sen Dog's rapping style really suits songs like this, he always sounds angry which works so well with rock music, it's clear from songs like this that Cypress Hill do rap-metal better than anyone in rock music bar maybe Rage Against the Machine.
18 - Case Closed
A short song to finish things off with, for me this is slightly above average, great production but due to the length of the song, about 1.55, the rappers really can't show off their skills.
Overall a 8/10 for me, this is one of the most varied albums you'll find in hip-hop with Cypress using many different styles all through the record, all to great effect, recommended to all hip-hop fans, especially gangster rap fans.
Black Sunday is the 1993 album by one of the biggest ever rap acts in history Cypress Hill. Consisting of B-Real, Sen Dogg, and DJ Muggs, all three members have a Latin/Hispanic influence they represent in their music. Black Sunday on release debuted at #1 on the US billboard album charts, the first ever rap band to achieve this, and has since gone 4 times platinum in sales, one of an elite few hip-hop albums to do so, and they became the first ever rap act to have two albums in top 10 US billboard charts simultaneously.
The group originally was called DVX and included Mellow Man Ace, but after his departure in 1988 they re-named themselves. Cypress Hill broke onto the music scene with their self titled debut album (that has also gone 4 times platinum) and a series of successful tours, after their unexpected success pressure was put on them by their label Columbia Records for them to get another album out whilst they were in the limelight. The group hastily put together Black Sunday and a legend was created, even though the band members themselves believe with more time the album could have been better. One of the most influential albums in alternative music, Black Sunday sent shockwaves through both the rap and the rock world, inspiring artists from Rage Against the Machine to the Wu-Tang Clan, with the single 'Insane In The Brain' being particularly notable for turning up in both rap and rock circles, as well as being a huge influence on the Latino music and culture. The band have never been scared of controversy and in 1993 were banned from the US TV show Saturday Night Live after smoking weed on-air and smashing their instruments up during a performance of 'I Ain't Going Out Like That'. The album booklet has 19 positive facts about marijuana which are worth the read.
(Sample information taken from Wikipediea)
1 - I Want To Get High
One of the mellowest tracks you could ever hope to hear, and a song that perfectly describes what the Hill's favourite pastime is. Like I said the beat couldn't be much more laid back, very slow and melodic, the raps work very well and you can really tell B-Real loves smoking, just a cool song.
"Get Out Of My Life, Woman" by The New Apocalypse
"Taxman" by Junior Parker
"One Draw" by Rita Marley
2 - I Ain't Going Out Like That
After the laid back first track we switch up to a faster paced, more aggressive song going right back to the gangster rap roots of Cypress, the tracks basically about life in a gang and the things gangsters do, love Sen Dogg's raps on this one, he has a crazy voice, great production on this.
"Wicked World" by Black Sabbath
"The Wizard" by Black Sabbath
3 - Insane In The Brain
The legendary track that launched Cypress to super stardom, not many people know this song is a diss track aimed at Chubb Rock who B-Real felt had mocked their style on his 'I Gotta Get Mine Yo' album, the song has a pumping baseline mixed with psycadellic sounds and some unusual samples samples, the beats one of the bounciest in hip-hop, the lyrics aren't exactly thought provoking but its still a great song.
"I'm Black And I'm Proud" by James Brown
"Good Guys Only Win In The Movies" by Mel & Tim
"All Over The World" by The Youngbloods
"Life" by Sly & The Family Stone
4 - When The Sh*t Goes Down
The first ever Cypress Hill song I heard when I bought a rap compilation album at the young age of 12, I love the beats to this one, another head nodding track, love the samples, B-Real sounds even more nasal toned than usual here, love the story telling, just a great song all-round with little to no faults.
"Stratus" by Billy Cobham
"Deep Gully" by Outlaw Blues Band
5 - Lick a Shot
A fast paced, aggressive sounding track that for me sounds like it was put together in a rush, I do like it but the production doesn't sound very polished and the raps don't really do much for me.
6 - Cock The Hammer
A wicked gangster rap song, I've loved this track since the first time I heard it, Sen Dogg kicks the song off with some of my favourite raps from him ever, quite a dark sound, you can hear the latino influence in the beats, not a happy track but a great one none the less.
7 - Lock Down
8 - 3 Lil' Putos
A slow track that I hated the first time I heard it but now its another I love, the very slow and almost systematic beats only amplify B-Real's tone leaving a sound like no other band/person in hip-hop, this track for me is one of the truer sound of the group and is a prelude to the darker sounds to come from their next album.
"I've Told Every Little Star by Linda Scott
"Remix For P Is Free" By Boogie Down Productions
"Ode To Billy Joe" by Lou Donaldson
9 - Legalize It
A interlude with clips from different people talking about weed.
"Hallelujah, I Love Her So" by Gene Chandler
10 - Hits From the Bong
What a cool song, love this track, its in my top 5 all time Cypress Hill songs, the music borrows heavily from "Son Of A Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield and sounds just as good, in case you don't know a bong is a pipe with water used as a filter/cooler to smoke marijuana through, B-Real will often smoke a bong on stage when this track is on (it was a massive joint when I saw them), the song is all about smoking and a great one to kick back to and get a bit hazy.
"Son Of A Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield
"Get Out Of My Life, Woman" by Lee Dorsey
"Don't Cha Hear Me Calling To Ya" by Junior Mance
11 - What Go Around Comes Around Kid
Another very Hispanic sounding track and another about gang life, more great production, both rappers sound very laid back when rapping despite the violent subjects they are speaking about, the song is basically about getting revenge, love the music and the raps.
"Get Out Of My Life, Woman" by Grassella Oliphant
12 - A to the K
A very violent song unsurprisingly about gun violence, a very dark sound, the siren/alarm sample that is distorted in the background really adds to the track in a way I'm struggling to describe, Cypress came into criticism for this track and the fact it supposedly glorifies violence but its just music not hate propaganda.
13 - Hand On The Glock
A good song but nothing different from anything else on here, they already have 2 or 3 very similar songs on here that are at a higher level, more lyrics about gang violence, and more good production.
14 - Break 'Em Off Some
This one makes me bounce every time, love this track, what a great way to end the album, the story telling in the lyrics is excellent and the beats always lift my mood, a perfect track to finish things off with.
"Money In The Pocket" by Joe Zawinul
Overall a 9/10 for me, this is one of the most influential hip-hop albums of all time and will forever be remembered as a classic, in my opinion they do have better work but considering this was made in 1993, still sounds fresh and can be picked up very cheap I recommend this to all rap fans.
Buy the album for £3.98 -
Well I feel like I've been waiting on my suggestions forever now so after seeing Joe's (JJJJ) review this morning I think I'll steal his idea and review Ciao.com, cheers Joe, even if you think I'm a weirdo ;)
After reading many of the comments on Joe's review I just need to make this clear - I am NOT reviewing Ciao.co.uk, Ciao.com is a separate site with a different payout structure and it does not have surveys.
Now I first found Ciao.com when I went to register with Ciao after months of hearing people on here talk about it, luckily for me I made the mistake of entering Ciao.com instead of ciao.co.uk, I quickly registered and soon realised my mistake once I couldn't find any dooyooers who swore they were on. After further investigation I started to notice a few people from here were already there like Tanyablack and a few of the guides from here, plus I was quickly joined by people such as t4imbo317 so I didn't really have any problems settling in.
The first thing I noticed is the quality of reviews over there, look at it this way some of the worst churners on here with the shortest of short reviews would fit right in over there, the reviews are short, often pointless, the grammar is almost no existent on a lot of the reviews, and often a review is full of Wikipedia info copied and pasted. I think it was Greg on here who pointed out he'd seen a poem on there he studied at school!
The next thing I noticed is how hard it is to get people to rate your reviews, most people over there don't care about other peoples work and really don't care if you rate them, but you'll still get 5-10 friends request a day saying things like 'plz reed mi nu review nd b mi friend' (the grammar is not an exaggeration most seem to write like that over there), and then you'll get an infinite amount of messages from people telling you they have a new review up, although the chances are they aren't going to rate yours. I've recently started trimming my friends list of these people but you'll find they all contact you asking why, saying 'they are sad to lose a friend', I'm not your friend get it, you haven't even read one of my reviews, a very strange lot on this site.
So my next task was to get as many people from over here onto Ciao.com, I successfully referred many people (Joe, stevepeto, pmcds and a few more) although at first many of the people I got to join I hadn't realised there was a referral link so I missed out there. Most people, except Chiino, questioned this payout and then questioned me once they posted and the money didn't go on in the first 24 hours, which is normal; any earnings go on the next day. I even got a few abusive messages lol saying I was just trying to get people to join for the money and I'd lied about the payout, as if I'd do something like that! Thankfully I received an apology from most who questioned my wisdom lol.
After that I thought 'right $1 a review lets get every review I've done on Dooyoo across', only to find they didn't have a music section. If you've read many of my reviews you'll realise this is my main subject, so I emailed then to find they were setting a new music section up. Once this was done I started posting many reviews although I found a lot of albums are not on the site and the suggestions take a hell of a lot longer than on dooyoo, but I carried on posting. I made $70 fairly quickly through the $1 per post and my referrals and fully planned to use the site to churn out many shorter, poorer quality reviews to make some easy money, I mean they would still be better than 90% of the ones on there anyway. I didn't log in for nearly 10 days then to my horror when I went back they had cancelled the $1 a review and moved it to 25 cents a review, and 50cents per review if your the first to post about a product, I quickly tried to find out why only to find that the $1 a review was a special offer for a limited amount of time, fingers crossed they will go back to it at some point and when they do I'll be churning like nobodies ever churned before.
I'm not 100% on how the cash for ratings work, I believe you can make up to 7c a rate, although if you don't get high ratings I think it's actually possible not to be paid for them, much like ciao.co.uk. If you need to know more I suggest you question someone like kitschkitty who seem to know what their talking about with this site.
I've found the community aspect to be much lacking compared to Dooyoo, I've tried talking with some of the Americans but all I get is one line responses that make little sense or don't answer your questions. What I have found is that I've become more friendly with the dooyooers over there, some of which I'd never even messaged on this side, one particular guide from here I've been speaking with a bit over there has even taken my advice and listened to Insane Clown Posse, I bet not many of you have done that, while I've taken her advice and am actively looking out for a Bollywood film named Zinda, a genre I would never have imagined I would ever have watched without reading her review!
One thing that strikes me about the site is how slow it is overall, from logging in to clicking on reviews everything seems to go that bit slower than on dooyoo and really puts me off putting much effort in to rating (apart from my friends of course). The layout is simple enough although they could do with more links to get to the newest reviews, plus they do not have a huge amount of pages of reviews so your latest one will disappear pretty quickly due to the churn.
I have yet to request a payout but someone (I think it was Tanya) told me they pay through Paypal, if you request a payment at any point during the month your paid halfway through the next, sounds good to me.
Overall Ciao.com isn't a bad site, it's certainly miles ahead of Ciao.co.uk, it's an easy way to increase any earnings from dooyoo, and hopefully in the future they will re-instate the $1 a review even if only for a short time. If anyone fancies joining message me and I'll send you a referral.