Demigodz – “KILLmatic” (Dirty Version Records) – An all-out hardcore Hip-Hop attack on the senses, Apathy, Celph Titled, Ryu, Esoteric and the rest of the ‘Godz reigned down lyrical fire and musical brimstone on sucker emcees, lightweight producers and internet thugs the world over on their latest collective effort. “KILLmatic” was the sonic equivalent of being kicked in the face with a scuffed Timberland boot.
Gensu Dean & Planet Asia – “Abrasions” (Mello Music Group) – West Coast veteran Asia definitely found a kindred musical spirit in Texas-raised producer Gensu Dean when the pair embarked on the recording of this full-length joint effort. Full of lyrical gymnastics, verbal food for thought and quality production, “Abrasions” was hopefully not the last time Planet Asia and Dean would be combining forces for our listening pleasure.
Sammy Dozens – “Lucid Dream” (SonsPhonetic.BandCamp.Com) – The member of Ireland’s Sons Phonetic crew stepped out into solo territory with this impressive five-track EP. Hazy, head-nodding production enveloped Dozens’ world-weary rhymes throughout the release, with the thoughtful lyricist attempting to push through the stresses of daily life in a bid to find some peace of mind.
Live Percenters – “The Corners Involved” (HiPNOTT Records) – It was always going to be a tough ask for Dukes Go Up, Mellow Drum Addict, I-Be4Evr and Physical Graffiti to match their brilliant 2012 album “The Giants Of Dropped Science”, but the East Coast crew rose to the challenge with “The Corners Involved” and once again delivered the musical goods. Intelligent rhymes and poignant life observations gelled perfectly with production that remained raw at all times whilst also managing to provide a few sonic surprises along the way.
Soundsci – “Soundsational” (Ubiquity Records) – A dope concept album of sorts built around samples from the music of vintage soul artist Mike James Kirkland, “Soundsational” found the transatlantic team of Jonny Cuba, Ollie Teeba, Oxygen, U-George and Audessey once again firing on all creative cylinders in a blaze of old-school flavour and new-school energy. Timeless beats and rhymes.
weatherPROOF – “Dirty Naturals” (weatherPROOFMusic.Com) – New Jersey duo Remsa and Event dropped this rough diamond at the top of the year and it largely went under the radar. With a varied guest-list including Ras Kass, Louis Logic and Orifice Vulgatron of UK crew Foreign Beggars, the album effectively balanced 90s-influenced musical sensibilities with a grounded, sometimes melancholy worldview, resulting in some truly memorable moments.
AG Da Coroner – “Crushed Grapes” (Man Bites Dog Records) – With producer ATG on-hand serving up a quality selection of grimy beats, Brooklyn’s AG Da Coroner stomped through the streets of NYC on this EP alongside the likes of Lord Nez, Meyhem Lauren and Spit Gemz. Showcasing his gruff delivery and vivid wordplay, “Crushed Grapes” set-up Da Coroner’s forthcoming “Sip The Nectar” project as one of 2014’s most anticipated albums.
Granville Sessions – “Forward” (GranvilleSessions.Com) – The London-based band returned with a worthy follow-up to their 2011 debut “No State”. Effortlessly meshing live musicianship with Hip-Hop attitude, “Forward” veered from deep funk workouts like “Ill Architecture” to head-nodders such as the reggae-influenced “Green”, with the collective riding the variety of musical styles with air-tight confidence.
Epidemic – “Somethin For Tha Listeners” (Mic-Theory Records) – Teaming-up with talented West Coast producer Esco, Florida-based duo HexOne and Tek-Nition delivered a smooth, jazzy album steeped in the horns and dusty beats of the 90s that managed to avoid sounding as if the pair were reaching too hard to relive a past era. Pure and polished, “Somethin For Tha Listeners” contained gem after gem.
Prodigy & Alchemist – “Albert Einstein” (Infamous Records) – Since his 90s heyday reppin’ the borough of QB creating murderous classics as one-half of Mobb Deep, Prodigy’s solo output has been mixed to say the least. But with long-time Mobb affiliate Alchemist behind-the-boards for this latest album, Prodigy didn’t just hit the metaphorical target, he obliterated the bullseye with non-stop automatic gun-fire. Bandana P’s threats of violence and super-thug boasts hadn’t sounded this believable or sonically appealing for a long time.
Check Part Three here.