John Robinson and PVD - Modern Vintage (Review)

John Robinson and PVD - Modern Vintage (Essence of Hip-Hop)

"Modern Vintage" is a collaborative album between veteran New York emcee John Robinson and drummer, composer, hip-hop producer Pat Van Dyke (PVD). The album features guest appearances from El Da Sensei, Sadat X, Shabaam Sahdeeq, ID 4 Windz and others and is fully produced by PVD himself. It was released on June 17, 2014 via Brick Records.

1) Mic Check - The album kicks off with John Robinson introducing the listener to himself and PVD over a lively instrumental with jazzy horns, a funky bass line and crazy live drums. Too bad this is so short, since it's real nice. - 3.5/5

2) All of the World - This was one of the singles released in promotion of the album and its fire. The beat is real smooth, with some ambient keys, guitars and celebratory horns, and John Robinson sounds great over it, just having fun over the instrumental and shouting out all of the places he's been in the world (among other things). I'm really feelin' this one. - 4/5

3) Respect King - Pat Van Dyke delivers another crazy instrumental for John Robinson to spit over, this time with some really catchy horns, organs and head nodding drums. The album has had a real jazzy feel so far and this track is no exception, with John Robinson getting a little more lyrical on here than on the past few songs and just ripping the beat. Very dope. - 4.25/5

4) Choose Your Words Wisely (featuring Melinda Camille) - This track features another smooth instrumental combined with some absolutely beautiful vocals by Melinda Camille on the chorus. The beat is real nice and the song is just as ill lyrically, with John Robinson kicking some positive rhymes full of knowledge and vivid imagery. This album is shaping up to be crazy so far. - 4.25/5

5) Two Man Mob (featuring Sadat X and I.D. 4 Windz) - PVD comes through with the most energetic beat on the project thus far, with a vibrant guitar loop and more jazzy horns over spirited drums. The beat is dope and Brand Nubian's Sadat X and John Robinson both come correct over it while I.D. 4 Windz just shows up for the chorus. Nice. - 3.25/5

6) What’s The Point (featuring Melinda Camille and Sam Barsh) - In sharp contrast to the previous song, the beat on this joint is probably the most mellow on the project so far. The song begins with Melinda Camille providing some nice sung vocals before John Robinson comes in almost a minute and a half into the track, spitting a story rap about an "ex Jazz cat" who vowed to never live a pointless existence and who shared his music with the world. Sounds to me like he is rapping about himself. Nice. - 3/5

7) Off The Wall - Pat Van Dyke ups the energy level again on this track, coming with a smooth instrumental with rolling drums, a nice bass riff and some resonant keys. The beat is dope and John Robinson sounds good over it, rhyming about the passion he has for music before the song closes out with some ill scratching. - 3.5/5

8) This Is Art - The instrumental on this track has a real easygoing feel and is centered around some soft keys and bright drums. I'm really feelin' the beat on here and John Robinson rips it, rhyming about how music is an art and about how he spits from the heart. This one's real dope. - 4/5

9) Miles and Trane - John Robinson and PVD dedicate this track to legendary jazz musicians Miles Davis and John Coltrane, with Lil Sci' incorporating some of their classic album and song titles into his rhymes over a upbeat jazzy horn instrumental. Very nice. - 3.75/5

10) Live Golden - This song finds John Robinson rapping about living life to the fullest over a laid back instrumental with some ambient synths, soulful keys and interesting percussion. The beat is nice and the rhymes have a positive message, which is always a good thing. Dope. - 3.5/5

11) Vinyl Is Forever (featuring El Da Sensei and Shabaam Sahdeeq) - John Robinson teams up with hip-hop legends El Da Sensei and Shabaam Sahdeeq over a funky distorted guitar riff that's definitely got me nodding my head. Lyrically the song is just as good as the beat, with all three emcees rapping about how they will live forever through their music. Dope. - 4/5

12) 10/11/12 - Paul Van Dyke lowers the tempo again and delivers a beautiful instrumental full of ambient synths, soft guitars and light drums that give the beat a breezy feel. As far as the rhymes go, John Robinson comes through and just spits a few bars about how dope him and PVD are. Dope track. - 4/5

13) Know My Style - The instrumental on this cut has a kind of old school hip-hop feel to it, but recreated with live instruments, synthesizers and scratching instead of using a sample. The beat is pretty good and John Robinson's rhymes are on point, but this one isn't hitting me quite as hard as some of the others. Still, not bad. - 3/5

14) We Rock - John Robinson kicks some boastful rhymes about PVD and himself over a somewhat forgettable instrumental with some synths and plucked guitar strings. Eh, this one is just ok for me. - 2/5

15) Together We Are (featuring Arin Maya) - This is much better though. Lil Sci' links up with Arin Maya as they rap and sing about whether or not men and women can be just friends over a smooth guitar-based instrumental. I'm really feelin the beat, rhymes and singing on here. Dope. - 4/5

16) Kiss The Sky (featuring Melinda Camille) - PVD delivers yet another dope instrumental, this time with a shower of piano keys and some strings over head nodding boom-bap drums. Lyrically the song is just as good as the beat, as John Robinson raps about living life like its your last day. Nice. - 3.5/5

17) Full Circle - The final song on the album finds John Robinson kicking some more honest and thought-provoking rhymes about hip-hop and jazz over a mellow instrumental with shuffling drums and bright horns that come in during the second verse. As on most of the tracks on here, the beat and rhymes are dope and come together very nicely. Good way to close out the album. - 4/5

I'm going to rate the album

3.75 / 5

because it's really good. The production is stellar throughout, with Paul Van Dyke composing head nodding instrumentals full of live instrumentation and synths that come together to have a real jazzy feel. Lyrically the album is just as good, with John Robinson coming correct on every track and actually rapping about a concept instead of just spitting random punchlines. It's pretty obvious that both Lil Sci' and PVD had a great time recording this album and the two show some amazing chemistry together. The end result of this is that both the instrumentals and lyrics are based on the same premise and actually sound like .... *gasp*... a song, instead of just emailed verses cut and pasted over pre-existing instrumentals. This one is going to get a lot of play from me in the future.


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