Illa Ghee - Social Graffiti (Review)

Illa Ghee - Social Graffiti (Essence of hip-hop)

"Social Graffiti" is the latest album from veteran hip-hop artist Illa Ghee. The album features guest appearances from Lil Fame, Sean Price, Guilty Simpson, O.C., JuJu and others as well as production from Ayatollah, Large Professor, DJ Skizz, Crummie Beats and others. It was released on July 8, 2014 via IMOR Entertainment.

1) Social Graffiti (Intro) - The first song on the album finds Illa Ghee rapping about his struggles and about trying to overcome them over a somber piano instrumental with a subtle Thunder and Lightning vocal sample in the background. The beat, by William Giovanni, has a real depressing feel to it and the rhymes sound about the same. Not a bad way to kick off the album. - 3/5

2) Salute The General (featuring Lil Fame) - The beat on this cut, courtesy of DJ Skizz, has a darker feel than the first, with threatening pianos and synths over hard hitting drums and snares. The beat is nice and Illa Ghee sounds good enough over it, kicking three verses full of boastful street rhymes while M.O.P.'s Lil Fame just shows up on the chorus. - 3.5/5

3) Speak To 'Em (featuring Sean Price) - Crummie Beats comes through with what is easily my favorite instrumental on the project so far, with a chopped up soulful vocal loop and spirited guitar riff over upbeat drums. The beat is banging and both Illa Ghee and Sean P sound real nice over it, kicking more punchline heavy braggadocios and street rhymes. I'm really feelin' this one. - 4.5/5

4) Murda Boyz - The beat on this song returns the album back to the darker vibes of the second track, with Diallo delivering another menacing piano-based instrumental for Illa Ghee to rhyme over. Lyrically the song is about the same as that cut as well, with Ghee kicking some more violent street rhymes while flowing nicely over the instrumental. - 3/5

5) Rum Raisin - M. Stacks gets the production duties on this song and comes with an instrumental based around a chopped up string and vocal sample over hard drums. The beat is good and Illa Ghee's usual boastful street rhymes are on point over it. Not bad, but not amazing. - 3/5

6) Get Money - This joint features Illa Ghee flowing nicely over a funky guitar lick with lively drums. The beat, by Vinyl Frontiers, is real energetic and Illa sounds nice over it as he spits some easy-going bars about trying to get that money. - 3/5

7) Razor Blade Vomit - Amazing SB comes through with a hard ass instrumental with reverberating keys and animated drums that keep the high energy level of the previous song going. As far as the rhymes go, Illa Ghee comes correct over the beat and kicks more of the usual. This is pretty dope though. - 3.5/5

8) Blurred Pupil (featuring Rell) - Illa Ghee spits a bunch of one-liners about how dope he is on the mic over a smooth Shawneci production. The beat and lyrics are nice and Rell's chorus brings some soul to the song. Not bad. - 3/5

9) James Worthy - The beat on this cut is another standout to me, with George Black delivering an ill instrumental centered around a looped up vocal sample, stomping drums and hand claps. Lyrically the song is pretty dope as well, with Illa Ghee comparing himself to James Worthy and rapping about how neither of them were ever considered superstars despite their obvious skills. Nice. - 4/5

10) Bruised Ego (featuring JuJu) - Crummie Beats returns to production duties on this track, this time delivering a harder instrumental than his previous contribution. The beat has a darker feel and Illa sounds good enough over it, but JuJu's chorus drags the song down a little in my opinion. - 2.75/5

11) No Mercy (featuring Guilty Simpson and Switch) - This track finds Illa Ghee linking up with Random Axe emcee Guilty Simpson over another darker Crummie Beats instrumental. The beat has a real dreary vibe to it and the lyrics are the usual from both emcees, with Switch just coming in on the chorus. Eh, this one is kind of boring for me though. I was really looking forward to it too. Oh well. - 2.75/5

12) B.O.D.Y. (Bars Over Dose Yours) - Crummie Beats comes through with his last contribution to the album and it's dope. The beat has a menacing vibe going on, with slightly ominous synths and samples layered over hard drums, and Illa Ghee sounds good enough over it as he kicks more rhymes about how nobody is touching him in this hip-hop shit. - 3/5

13) Hold Up (featuring Royal Flush) - Illa Ghee teams up with fellow New York hip-hop artist Royal Flush as both emcees kick more aggressive rhymes over a sinister Grayce Musik production. I'm feelin' the beat and rhymes on this one. Nice. - 3.5/5

14) Talking In A 3rd Person - Queens hip-hop producer Ayatollah comes through and delivers another of my favorite instrumentals on the album, with dreamy pianos over head nodding drums. The beat is banging and Illa rips it as he kicks some introspective and boastful rhymes about himself. - 4.25/5

15) 90 - This song is a throwback to the golden era of hip-hop, with Large Professor providing a banger and Illa Ghee rapping about a "time when the rap was so classic." The beat is real dope and Ghee sounds really good over it. You know I'm gonna be a fan of this one. - 4.25/5

16) On The Bklyn Side (featuring Steele and O.C.) - Shawneci returns on the production tip with another darker beat with pianos, synths and a vocal sample over boom-bap drums. As far as the rhymes go, Illa Ghee, Boot Camp Cliks General Steele and D.I.T.C.'s O.C. are all on point with their verses, rapping about life in Brooklyn, NY. - 4/5

17) Open Up The Door - The final song on the album finds Illa Ghee kicking some of his usual violent and braggadocios bars over a Team Demo beat that is full of organs and a vocal sample on the chorus. The production and rhymes on this cut are both pretty good, but not amazing. - 3/5

I'm going to rate the album

3.5 / 5

because there are some really good songs on here, but there are a few tracks that I'm not really feelin' as well. Lyrically Illa Ghee is about the same as he always has been, spitting different variations of boastful bars and aggressive street raps. He rarely switches up his flow on any of the songs, which works against the album in a way since the songs can start to blend together after a while (outside of the guest verses of course). As far as the production goes, the beats are pretty dope throughout and range from gritty boom-bap bangers to smoother instrumentals. There are a few standout tracks ("Speak To 'Em", "James Worthy", "Talking In A 3rd Person", "90") and some that kind of get lost in the mix ("No Mercy", "Bruised Ego"), but the album as a whole is dope and is a nice addition to the catalog of a veteran emcee.


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