Azaia - Re-Animations (Album Review)

"Re-Animations" is the debut album from French hip-hop producer Azaia. The album features guest appearances from Dirt Platoon, John Robinson, Blu, Reks, Nine, Skanks and many others and is fully produced by Azaia himself. It was released on April 28, 2014 via Marvel Records.

1) Off (Input) - Skit.

2) Re-Animators (featuring Dirt Platoon) - The first song on the project features Baltimore wordsmiths Dirt Platoon spitting some reflective rhymes about their past over a crazy beat with soaring strings, light chimes and reverberating synths. The beat is absolute fire and both Raf Almighty and Snook Da Crook sound perfect over it. This one is a banger and is a great way to kick off the project. - 4.5/5

3) City's Flesh (featuring John Robinson) - Azaia delivers another beautiful instrumental, this time featuring some somber piano keys and horns with subtle guitars and synths that make the beat almost feel like nighttime. The production is real dope and John Robinson aka Lil' Sci rips it, kicking some socially conscious rhymes about crime and violence in the ghettos of the world. Very dope - 4.5/5

4) Brain Damages (featuring Fel Sweetenberg) - The unofficial third member of Dirt Platoon comes through with a solo track and it's real ill. As on the previous two songs, the beat is absolute flames and Fel Sweetenberg rips it, rapping about his habit of drinking to take away the pain. Another dope track. - 4.5/5

5) The A Game (featuring Wildelux) - Azaia is just killin it with the production on this project and this track is no exception. The beat on this joint is really dope, with some hazy keyboards/bells, horns and piercing strings over head nodding drums. Lyrically the song is just as good, with Bronx hip-hop artist Wildelux flowing smoothly over the beat and spitting three verses of boastful rhymes and witty punchlines. - 4/5

6) Lifecheck/2099 (featuring Skanks) - This track starts out with an interlude that is in French, so I can't really understand whats going on, but once the song starts I don't really care. The beat on this cut is very atmospheric, with swirling synths/keys and a hard snare, before it changes up about halfway through to become even crazier. As far as the rhymes go, Skanks (of Bankai Fam) rips the beat and warns people to focus on bettering their own lives instead of criticizing his. This ones fire. - 5/5

7) Frankenine (featuring Nine) - Keeping with the album's theme of resurrecting hip-hop (this time via Frankenstein), NYC veteran Nine shows up out of nowhere and spits some hard braggadocios rhymes over another dope instrumental with some horns, soaring strings and an interesting backing sample. The beat's got me nodding my head and Nine is spitting like it's still the 90's. Dope track - 4/5

8) No Cure (featuring Reks and Ecorce) - This cut features a nice violin based sample layered over boom-bap drums and ill scratching on the chorus that ties the track together. As far as the rhymes go, Reks starts the song off with a real dope first verse before Ecorce (whom I'm not familiar with) closes out, with both emcees kicking rhymes full of disease and sickness references to describe how ill they are on the mic. Nice. - 4/5

9) The Underdog (featuring Finale) - Azaia delivers yet another darker instrumental, this time with a sprinkle of chimes over murky strings and gloomy keyboards. The beat is nice and Finale sounds pretty good over it, rhyming about being an underdog in the rap industry. Not bad, but there are better tracks on here in my opinion. - 3/5

10) Stick Up (featuring The Federation) - The Federation is a hip-hop trio coming out of South Africa that I haven't heard much from, but what I have heard was pretty dope. That trend continues with this track, with Neon and Mr-C kicking some street stories about doing a stick up over another gutter Azaia instrumental that sounds like it's straight out of the dungeon. - 3.25/5

11) HH73 (featuring Kaimbr) - Low Budget Crew member Kaimbr comes correct over a smooth instrumental with some pianos and jazzy horns over boom-bap drums. I'm really feelin' the beat on this one and Kaimbr rips it, rapping about being defiant and refusing to change up his style to get radio play. Very dope. - 4/5

12) Sacrifice (featuring Phase One) - This song features one of my favorite instrumentals on the album so far, with echoing bells over a crazy resonant sample and head nodding drums. As far as the rhymes go, Bronx emcee Phase One comes through and just bodies it, rapping about sacrificing everything to achieve his dreams. Dope shit. - 4.25/5

13) Man vs Machine (featuring Street Smartz) - F.T. of Street Smartz spits a quick verse over a crazy instrumental full of frantic violins and hard ass drums. The beat and rhymes on here are ill, but the song is way too short (clocking in at two minutes and just one verse). Still, this is dope. - 3.5/5

14) Heaven On A 45 (featuring Blu) - The final song on the album features West Coast hip-hop vet Blu ripping a beautiful Azaia instrumental that has a lighter feel than many of the other beats on the album. Lyrically the song is just as dope as the production, with Blu dropping gems full of hip-hop references while flowing effortlessly over the beat. - 4.5/5

15) On (Output) - Skit.

I'm going to rate the album

4 / 5

because it's really good. The beats on here are stellar throughout, with Azaia providing instrumentals centered around that 90's boom-bap style while still managing to sound fresh today. The production is lush and vibrant while remaining dark and gritty at the same time, with mostly every beat on here keeping me nodding my head every time I decide to give the record a spin. As far as the rhymes go, they fare mostly the same as the beats, with all of the featured emcees sounding great over the production and mostly sticking with the albums theme of resurrecting hip-hop. If you are fan of that 90's sound, definitely make sure to check out the album.


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