Kidz In The Hall – “Star” (Duck Down Music / 2012)
Taken from the duo’s recent album “Occasion”.
Kidz In The Hall – “Star” (Duck Down Music / 2012)
Taken from the duo’s recent album “Occasion”.
Kidz In The Hall ft. Vic Spencer – “I Swear” (Duck Down Music / 2012)
Naledge reflects on his career so far over smooth Double-O production on this track from the recent Kidz album “Occasion”.
Kidz In The Hall’s Naledge on DJ Enuff’s show The B-Side.
The Primeridian ft. Naledge – “Bucktown (City Of Wind)” ( All Natural Inc / 2008 )
Taken from the Chicago crew’s recent album “Da Mornin’ Afta”
Following in the large footsteps of a talented Hip-Hop sibling can be a daunting task for any upcoming artist. Just ask Warren G, Lil’ Daddy Shane and Jungle. So with that in mind, all eyes are on 21-year-old Detroit native Illa J, whose late, great older brother J Dilla is cemented in the consciousness of the global Hip-Hop community as one of the best producers of all-time. Having stamped his trademark sound on releases from the likes of The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest, Common and Busta Rhymes, Dilla’s next-level studio techniques influenced a long line of impersonators and his passing in 2006 left a gaping hole in the music world, along with the sense that a true creative visionary had been lost. So, no pressure on the young Illa J then as he releases his debut album “Yancey Boys”, a project that finds the Motor City MC / producer rhyming over beats provided posthumously by Dilla himself.
The story behind the recording of “Yancey Boys” could easily sound like a clever marketing ploy to ease Illa J into the headphones of hypercritical Dilla fans were it not so filled with pure coincidence. Released on Delicious Vinyl, the label for which Jay Dee produced cuts on Pharcyde’s 1995 album “Labcabincalifornia”, the project came to life following Illa’s relocation to Los Angeles and a chance meeting with DV’s head-honcho Michael Ross, who courteously offered Yancey Jr access to the many unused beats Dilla had recorded for the label during the mid-to-late 90s. Upon immersing himself in his brother’s unheard material, Illa J knew exactly what he needed to do, and got to work on what would become “Yancey Boys”. But whilst the tale behind the tape (or in this case, the CD) is the stuff that Hip-Hop folklore is made of, the burning question is, has Illa J done justice to his older brother’s music and, ultimately, his legacy?
The first thing that strikes you about the album’s opening tandem of “Timeless” and “We Here” is the sense of energy and celebration, a feeling that comes not just from Dilla’s mastery behind the boards, but also from the way in which Illa J has approached the music, singing and rhyming his way through lyrics laced with positive vibes and genuine optimism. As Illa croons, “I spent so much time just thinking about nothing, Now it’s time to turn that nothing into something”, it’s clear that “Yancey Boys” is musical therapy for the upcoming talent, an opportunity to work through the emotional baggage of his brother’s untimely death and turn tragedy into personal triumph.
The instant neck-snapper “R U Listenin’?” features a typically swaggering verse from fellow Detroit resident Guilty Simpson, whilst the carefree b-boy breeze of “Showtime” blends airy jazz pianos with Illa’s likeably cocky rhymes and playful boasts.
The fact that the majority of beats contained on “Yancey Boys” still sound fresh and organic regardless of being approximately a decade old is a testament to just how ahead of his time Dilla was as a producer. Whilst the chime-laden groove of the girl-chasing “DFTF” sounds like the best cut A Tribe Called Quest never recorded for their 1998 swan-song “The Love Movement”, it still knocks hard in 2008. Similarly, the space-dust soul of “Sounds Like Love” finds Dilla combining Hip-Hop’s raw, basement ethics with subtle, spine-tingling melodies, resulting in a sound that is simultaneously retro and futuristic.
If “Yancey Boys” represents Illa J being publicly passed the musical torch from his elder brother, it’ll be interesting to see in which direction the youngster runs with it on his next proper solo outing.
Illa J ft. Debi Nova – “Sounds Like Love” ( Delicious Vinyl / 2008 )
All of you producer types out there might want to check out the recently released “King Of The Beats 2″ DVD. Directed by UK-based Hip-Hop junkie Pritt Kalsi, the film features a variety of beat-heads taking up the KOTB challenge, which involves each producer being given a limited budget to go digging for records, which they then have to take back to their respective labs to sample, chop and mutate into a finished Hip-Hop track. All of which seems straightforward, until you realize that the entire process has to be completed within a 24-hour period. Nevertheless, as the old saying goes, pressure makes diamonds, and here you can witness crate-diggers such as DJ Pogo (UK), P Body (Australia) and DJ Priority (USA) each displaying how they approach the craft of producing.
“King Of The Beats 2″ Trailer
“Changes Of Atmosphere” from Dela is an album that truly spans Planet Rock, with the project from the French producer featuring an impressive line-up of Stateside artists yet seeing a release on Japan’s Drink Water label. Obviously inspired by such studio greats as Pete Rock, Dilla and Large Professor, Dela’s sound revolves around a strong foundation of crisp drums, jazzy, soulful samples and intoxicating instrumentation.
Dela puts a haunting horn sample to good use on the Talib Kweli-assisted “Long Life”, and North Carolina’s Supastition recounts the constant struggle faced by underground artists on the ethereal title cut.
With further appearances from respected lyricists such as J-Live, Surreal, Blu and Dynas, “Changes Of Atmosphere” is a thoroughly satisfying listening experience that contains substance in both its beats and rhymes.
Dela ft. Naledge of Kidz In The Hall – “It Is What It Is” ( Drink Water / 2008 )
Once considered the backbone of Hip-Hop, it’s no secret that in recent years the DJ has had to fight to remain relevant in an industry increasingly dominated by ego-crazy rappers and producers. Eager to do his part to support the turntablist movement is UK scratch assassin K-Delight, an individual whose many years behind the decks ensure his latest album “Audio Revolution” is a superbly crafted slice of sonic mayhem.
Aiming to encompass all four of the key elements of Hip-Hop culture, this long-player has something for true-school representatives everywhere. Graffiti heads are covered on the educational “Shake, Rattle N Throw”, which features LA-based female MC Shin-B offering a brief history of the artform’s origins, whilst b-boys are given some up rock theme music in the form of the old-school flavored “Wildstyle Dream”.
Elsewhere, the self-explanatory “Forever Hip-Hop” finds Stateside lyricists Skitz The Gemini and Shinobi Stalin paying homage to arguably the most influential cultural movement the modern world has ever seen, whilst “Scratch Club” is a posse cut with a twist, as the likes of NYC’s DJ JS-1, the UK’s DJ Woody and Scotland’s Krash Slaughta team-up with K Delight in a formidable display of deck-wrecking skills.
“Audio Revolution” Live Album Sampler
Chicago-based crew The Primeridian makes a welcome return to the underground rap scene with their sophomore album “Da Mornin’ Afta”, featuring the former duo of Simeon and Tree now being joined by talented wordsmith Race.
Coming out of the All Natural camp, the trio has a strong line in head-nodding, thought-provoking Hip-Hop, and “Da Mornin’ Afta” finds Primeridian matching their lyrical substance with beats provided solely by producers from Europe and the UK (including Netherlands maestro Nicolay of Foreign Exchange fame).
The opening “Change The Meridian (Hard Rock)” announces the group’s comeback in no uncertain terms, offering three-minutes of raw, breakbeat-driven braggadocio, whilst the blaxploitation boogie of “Bucktown (City Of Wind)” features Naledge of Kidz In The Hall addressing Chi-town’s social underbelly.
The pulsating bass and swirling synths heard on “Takuthere” (produced by France’s DJ Steady) provide a soothing musical backdrop for the social commentary of featured artists Iomos Marad and The Pharcyde’s Uncle Imani. My personal favorite here though has to be the beautifully understated “Melodic Healing”, a lush mix of live bluesy guitar, spine-tingling flutes and life-affirming lyricism. Music for the soul, indeed.
A variety of artists discuss the importance of voting and political awareness in the Hip-Hop community.
HipHopOfficial recap of Rock The Bells 2008 in LA.
Dirty Media’s Mr. Lucas catches up with Kidz In The Hall during their recent trip to London.
Underground favourites Kidz In The Hall freestyling on DJ MK’s Kiss FM Rap Show in London last week.
HipHopOfficial goes backstage at Paid Dues in NYC with Supernatural, Dru Ha, Yak Ballz, Buckshot, Kidz In The Hall, The GZA etc.
Whilst California-based artist Shaya cites N.W.A.’s Ice Cube and MC Ren as childhood inspirations, on his debut album the slick-tongued lyricist avoids the gangsta rap template set-out by the aforementioned legends, choosing instead to back up his unquestionable swagger with boasts of lyrical domination rather than threats of physical violence.
The soulful roller ‘Impeccable Concepts’ opens the album and effectively introduces Shaya’s nimble wordplay amidst sweeping strings and deft scratches, resulting in a track that wouldn’t sound out of place on a release from fellow Left Coast residents Hieroglyphics. The autobiographical ‘Proud’ digs back into the rapper’s past, whilst ‘Thinking Cap’ turns Teddy Pendergrass’s 70s soul classic ‘Turn Off The Lights’ into a nice mid-tempo head-nodder, with Shaya speaking on facing up to adulthood as he attempts to raise a family. The boisterous ‘Welcome’ finds the Cali mic fiend ego trippin’ with his homies Truthlive and Megga Mills, accompanied by some triumphant horns.
Only on the back-to-back tracks ‘Sleepers Anthem’ and ‘Fall Back’ (produced by Jake One) does the album falter, with both cuts lacking the spontaneous, organic vibe that runs throughout the remainder of the release, relying instead on generic soundscapes that ultimately add little to the overall project. However, that said, ‘Fallen Awake’ is a promising first effort from an MC with the personality and charisma needed to separate himself from his underground peers.
7 Outta 10
Released 29.07.08 on Interdependent Media
If hip-hop is as dead as so many fans, critics and artists would have us believe, nobody thought to tell Canada’s DL Incognito. The rapper’s fourth album, ‘A Captured Moment In Time’, offers an invigorating listening experience free from the ‘keep it real’ clichés, thugged-out posturing and stereotypical baggage associated with so much of today’s hip-hop, both underground and mainstream.
Having spent the best part of the last decade struggling to break out of local circles, you might expect DL to come off like the typical mad rapper, but instead the forthright MC channels his experiences into succinct, effective verses that display both a knack for witty punchlines and a welcome sense of maturity. ‘Too Late Now’ finds Mr. Incognito thoughtfully reconciling his childhood dreams of achieving widespread rap stardom with his present day reality as a “working musician with none of the perks”, whilst the catchy ‘Fresh To Death’ warns of the consequences of material obsession over a cool, retro-boogie groove. The piano-laced ‘Thank You (For Listening)’ is another immediate standout, with DL showing genuine appreciation to all of his supporters over the mellow shimmer of the T-Wrecks-produced track (a special mention also has to go to Techtwelve who delivers some top-notch beats throughout the project).
By staying true to both himself and his craft, this Canadian export has recorded an album capable of reaffirming even the most jaded rap fan’s faith in the ability of hip-hop to both stimulate and entertain.
8 Outta 10
Out Now on Nine Planets Hip-Hop / URBNET
Following up their initial long-playing collaboration, 2005’s well-received ‘Chemistry’, Black Moon’s Buckshot and former Little Brother producer 9th Wonder reunite here in a bid to recreate the success of their original blend of Brooklyn lyricism and North Carolina boom-bap. However, does their second sonic experiment draw on all the right elements of hip-hop’s periodic table, or should the pair have stayed in the lab just a little bit longer?
There’s no doubt that the BDI Emcee and 9th share a good working relationship, as evidenced by the natural, relaxed vibe that forms the backbone of ‘The Formula’, but it’s that same comfort zone which simultaneously contributes to both the album’s strengths and weaknesses. Cuts such as the pulsating ‘Go All Out’ and upbeat ’Hold It Down’ (featuring Talib Kweli) showcase the pair at their best, with 9th crafting crisp backpack beats drenched in soulful samples, as Buckshot controls the mic with a self-assured confidence indicative of his fifteen year career. The sombre ‘Only For You (Big Lou)’ is another immediate standout, as Wonder demonstrates his ability to make potent mood music from the simplest of loops, whilst Buck sends a sincere dedication to a lost friend. Unfortunately, the duo appear to hit cruise control on tracks such as ‘Just Display’ and ’Here We Go’, with the Bucktown rapper offering predictable rhymes about the fairer sex over uninspired production. BDI’s trademark word association flow also frustrates at times, leaving the listener wishing that Buckshot would sink his lyrical teeth into more specific subject matter on certain tracks, rather than relying on seemingly spontaneous verses that would be better suited to an impromptu freestyle cipher.
‘The Formula’ isn’t a bad album by any means, yet it does seem to lack the spark of its predecessor. Buckshot and 9th Wonder are both individuals with unquestionable talent, but perhaps next time they hit the studio together they might want to add some new ingredients to their favoured formula, instead of leaning too heavily on an already tried-and-tested approach to the science of music.
6.5 Outta 10
Out Now On Duck Down Records
Not since Wu-Tang’s RZA led the Gravediggaz through the land of the lost on their 1994 album ‘Niggamortis’ has horror-inspired hip-hop sounded as entertainingly disturbing as it does in the hands of lyrical lunatic Kashmere. Continuing the battle between good and evil that began in earnest on his 2006 project ‘In The Hour Of Chaos’, the London-based MC skilfully bridges the gap between fantasy and reality throughout ‘Raiders…’, ripping through his colourfully compelling verses like a rap Van Helsing as he slays demons and denounces the darkside.
Making visions of hell on earth sound appealing to the ear is no small feat, but Kashmere rises to the challenge with ample amounts of charisma and creativity, ensuring his ghoulish grammar never strays too far into pure novelty territory by balancing the album with moments of poignant observation. The tense ‘Power Up’ describes the increasing level of crime on Britain’s streets as being the work of Lucifer, whilst the piano-led ‘Poison’ comments on rap’s glorification of violence amidst references to conspiracy theories, paganism and space technology. Elsewhere, ‘What Would Happen?’ takes the standard weed-song concept to higher heights, as Kashmere speaks of smoking “red mist” brought back “through the Stargate” which elevates the wordsmith to such a level he stumbles upon the meaning of life whilst stoned. The sublime ’Centre Of The Sun’ is arguably the album’s strongest track, however, with Kash’s vivid stream-of-consciousness flow matched by Jehst’s impeccable display of multi-layered poetic precision.
Lyrically, Kashmere may be a little too ‘out-there’ for some, but those who like to hear imagination in their hip-hop will no doubt revel in this all-access pass into the darker recesses of the rapper’s mind. Featuring excellent production from the likes of LG, Ghost and DJ IQ, ‘Raiders Of The Lost Archives’ succeeds in combining rhymes about things that go bump in the night with beats that will bump in your system. Just make sure you listen to it with the light on.
8.5 Outta 10
Out Now On YNR Productions.
As one of the most refreshing and promising acts to rise from the hip-hop underground in recent memory, Kidz In The Hall’s 2006 Rawkus-released album ‘School Was My Hustle’ was met with well-deserved acclaim thanks to its near flawless blend of solid, soulful beats and thoughtful lyricism. Two years on and the creators of that memorable debut, New Jersey producer Double-O and Chicago MC Naledge, are back with a new label, a new project, and, some might argue, a new approach to their craft.
A concept album of sorts, ‘The In Crowd’ is an attempt by the Kidz to gather a large number of their favourite artists, old and new, underground and mainstream, to record a project that transcends categorisation and, hopefully, contains something for everyone. For the most part the duo succeeds, managing to make appearances from seemingly unrelated acts such as NYC’s Camp Lo, the UK’s Estelle, and Southern rap legend Bun B sound organic rather than awkward. Little Brother’s ever-reliable Phonte jumps on the lush ‘Paper Trail’, whilst the lesser-known Donnis and Chip Tha Ripper appear on the Leroy Hutson-sampling ‘Mr. Alladatsh*t’, an all-out boast-fest which finds Naledge clearly wanting to be taken seriously as a leader of rap’s new school.
In a move that might alienate some of their original backpack-wearing fans, the Kidz also attempt to reach the mainstream here, with the clubby ‘Love Hangover’ (featuring the aforementioned Estelle on hook duties) and the playful, testosterone-driven ‘Lucifer’s Joyride’ (complete with a verse from Gym Class Heroes front-man Travis McCoy and trendy auto-tune vocal effects). Both of these potential crossover hits work, however, with the pair managing to retain their own musical identity whilst trying to shake-off their underground tag.
Yet as satisfying as ‘The In Crowd’ is, it’s hard not to listen to the album and wonder how different it might have sounded had there not been so many hip-hop students both past and present invited to the party. With Naledge contributing just a single verse to some cuts, the project doesn’t allow for the same level of depth displayed by the lyricist on the duo’s debut. Only on ‘The Pledge’ and the sombre ‘Inner Me’ does Naledge really show his more reflective side, rhyming about the stresses of the industry grind and personal insecurities on each track respectively.
Nevertheless, ‘The In Crowd’ is an impressive album which finds Kidz In The Hall confidently shrugging off outside expectations as they take the next step along what will hopefully be a lengthy career path.
8 Outta 10
Out Now On Duck Down Records
Naledge and Double-O talk to HipHopOfficial about their new album “The In Crowd”.
Here’s the official tracklisting for the Kidz’ sophomore album “The In Crowd” due to be released on Duck Down Records in April (with all production handled by group member Double-O)
2. Blackout ft. DJ GI Joe
3. Paper Trail ft. Phonte
4. Drivin’ Down Block (Low End Theory) ft. Masta Ace
5. Lucifer’s Joyride ft.Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes
6. Snob-Hop ft. Camp Lo
7. The In Crowd ft. Tim William
8. Let Your Hair Down ft. Skyzoo & Lil Eddie
9. Midwest Thang Pt’s 1 &2 ft. Black Milk, Guilty Simpson & Fooch (co-produced by Black Milk)
10. Mr. Alladatshit
11. Sean,Na & Buck ft. Sean Price & Buckshot
12. Life I Know
13. Drivin’ Down The Block Remix ft. The Clipse & The Cool Kids (Bonus Track)
Footage of Kidz In The Hall recording “Let Your Hair Down” with Brooklyn’s Skyzoo, a track due to appear on the pair’s forthcoming album “The In Crowd”.
Following on from my previous Kidz In The Hall post a couple of weeks ago, this is the ‘official’ promo clip for the duo’s Barack Obama 2008 Election anthem ”Work To Do”.
Newly signed to Duck Down Records, Kidz In The Hall duo Naledge and Double-O get busy in the studio recording “Work To Do” for Barack Obama’s US presidential campaign.
Snippet of the new Kidz In The Hall single “Driving Down The Block” from their forthcoming 2008 album “The In Crowd”. Production-wise it’s a change in direction compared to the jazzy boom-bap beats of the pair’s “School Was My Hustle” debut – see what you think.