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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Purple City
Road to the Riches: The Best of the Purple City Mix Tapes
Babygrande Records

Rating: 5.5/10 ?

June 3, 2005
Used to be that once a fad was satirized on a television comedy show, it signaled the death of that fad. But even after a scathingly hilarious Chappelle's Show sketch about a mix tape artist named Fisticuffs who only kept saying "Turn my headphones up," this trend in hip-hop is still alive and kicking.

This is mostly thanks to the recent success of two rappers that first made their name on mix tapes. The first is the most recently famous one - 50 Cent's story has been rehashed and retold a thousand times. The second one is slightly less heralded. Cam'ron released Purple Haze at the end of 2004 to great critical acclaim, and the record sold well, too. Cam'ron is one member of the Diplomats, best known for releasing mix tape after mix tape on the streets of New York. Both got their starts in this underground, then got noticed, got big and got their money.

In the wake of this kind of success, the idea will remain that the next rising star in hip-hop, the new "diamond in the rough" will be found on a mix tape. Certainly that's what the Purple City people are figuring, releasing Road to the Riches, a collection of songs off of Purple City mix tapes - the label that released all those Diplomats tapes. However, all this record does is to remind us that sometimes to find these diamonds, you have to get through a lot of rough.

Road to the Riches features the Purple City crew, a Diplomats minor league team. It is pretty standard East Coast gangsta rap. The production is decent, in a bombastic style that calls for boasting and gritty street dramas. The rhyming is average, rarely rising above the regular guns and drug dealing and "you better respect us" tropes.

In short, there's nothing here that's worth much more than a shoulder shrug and a press of the skip button. If you had picked this up as a mix tape off the street for $5, you might be more impressed. But to take it to the next level, where people actually go to the store to plunk down the $15 for a CD, there needs to be something that sets the sound apart from everything else, which Road to the Riches fails to provide.

Certainly the Purple City people were hoping that this would be their big chance to shine, their shot to parlay some mix tape success into chart-topping glory. Instead, they may have succeeded where that the much-more-entertaining Chappelle's Show sketch failed in signaling the end of this mix tape fad.

Reviewed by Dan Filowitz
Dan Filowitz is Toronto-born, New-Jersey-raised, Indiana-University-educated, and Chicago-residing. In addition to his Lost At Sea contributions, Dan is a senior staff writer for political humor site TalkStation.com and the president of ChicagoImprovAnarchy (The CIA) a Chicago-based improv theatre company. We are not mentioning the 9-5 corporate job. Apparently, Dan does not sleep much. Dan Filowitz is the perfect dinner party guest - fun, witty, intelligent, with wide-ranging interests, ecclectic tastes and a winning smile. Just make sure you have coffee available.

See other reviews by Dan Filowitz



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