Check Part One here.
The Professionals – “The Professionals” (RappCats.Com) – Keeping it in the family, brothers Madlib and Oh No played to their strengths on this quality collaborative album, combining bravado-filled rhymes with soul / funk samples and random dialogue snippets to create an unpredictable listening experience. Benefiting from sounding like a spontaneous, basement-style jam session, this album fully demonstrated why the West Coast pair have long been considered cult figures within underground Hip-Hop circles.
GodBody Science – “The Dwayne Wayne Story” (GodBodyScience.BandCamp.Com) – Atlanta-based producer-on-the-mic GodBody Science ensured he stood out from the crowd with this five-track EP, mixing a slick, nimble flow with personality-fuelled rhymes, catchy hooks and captivating soundscapes.
Rome Streetz – “Noise Kandy 4” (RomeStreetz.BandCamp.Com) – One of the most engaging voices to have emerged from the New York rap scene in recent years, Rome Streetz’ confident, sidewalk-savvy rhymes possess an arrogant charm and enthusiastic energy that lifts him above many of his contemporaries. Plus, he has a great ear for quality production, as evidenced here by his musical choices from Chronic Tone, Sebb Bash, DJ Skizz etc.
Trauma 74 – “Acceptable Citizens” (EvilTwinRecords.BandCamp.Com) – UK emcee Trauma 74 followed-up his 2017 debut “The God Given Image” with this largely self-produced collection of personal, direct lyricism covering a variety of topics. Offering thoughtful observations on the world around us, whilst avoiding coming across as preachy or self-righteous, Trauma once again proved himself to be a necessary voice in the British rap game.
Jorun Bombay & Phill Most Chill – “Jorun PMC” (PhillMostChill.BandCamp.Com) – Skilfully paying homage to the sounds, styles and flavours of 80s Hip-Hop, the creative chemistry captured here between Canadian producer Jorun Bombay and veteran Philly emcee Phill Most Chill was a joy to listen to. The pair’s shared passion for the culture of Hip-Hop could clearly be felt and heard throughout this album, with the end result evoking strong feelings of nostalgia whilst still sounding current and vibrant.
Buckwild – “Music Is My Religion” (DITCBuckwild.BandCamp.Com) – Having produced numerous classics over the years for the likes of O.C., Big L and Organized Konfusion, Buckwild’s place in the Hip-Hop history books is set in stone. Yet obviously not wanting to simply rest on his laurels, the legendary producer had a busy 2020, delivering instrumental projects, compilation albums and full-length collaborations. This particular release featured some of Buckwild’s finest work of the year, with artists such as Ransom, Milano and Smif-N-Wessun all benefitting from the Bronx representative’s dusty-fingered production skills.
UFO Fev & Statik Selektah – “Fresh Air” (UFOFev.BandCamp.Com) – 2020 was definitely a strong year for UFO Fev, with the talented East Harlem emcee dropping three notable releases, the first being this stellar collaboration with the mighty Statik Selektah. Fev’s streetwise verses were expertly complimented by Statik’s smooth production, resulting in an album that was full of character and, most importantly, good music.
TrueMendous – “HUH?” (HighFocus.BandCamp.Com) – You could hear the glee in the voice of Birmingham’s TrueMendous as she played with words and flows throughout this EP for the UK’s High Focus label. A naturally gifted artist who has worked hard in recent years to build a loyal fanbase, this release was an opportunity for TrueMendous to introduce her unique brand of lyricism to new supporters. Backed by a diverse selection of beats from the likes of Chemo, Pitch 92 and Winchester, TrueMendous put her stamp on every single track in no uncertain terms, fully demonstrating her power as an emcee.
Roving Jewel – “The 38th Expansion” (RovingJewel.BandCamp.Com) – Cali producer Roving Jewel’s expertly crafted instrumentals were blessed here by the likes of Smif-N-Wessun’s Tek, Casual and Killah Priest, resulting in an album that moved between straight-forward head-nodders and subtly-layered cuts, avoiding the tried-and-tested boom-bap-by-numbers approach that pulls some producer-based projects into mediocre territory.
Blu & Exile – “Miles” (TheDirtyScience.Com) – In the spirit of great duos such as Pete Rock & CL Smooth and Gang Starr, Blu and Exile have always simply sounded like they were meant to make music together. The pair’s 2007 album “Below The Heavens” quite rightly became a cult classic, with this latest ambitious, twenty-track release proving the duo’s musical partnership remains as finely-tuned as ever. Exile’s meticulous, jazz-influenced production perfectly matched Blu’s philosophical, life-affirming rhymes here, making for an expansive body of work with both depth and purpose.
Gee Bag x Illinformed – “Respect Ya Elders!” (RevorgRecords.BandCamp.Com) – Packed full of personality, this release from UK emcee Gee Bag found the witty wordsmith joining forces with talented producer Illinformed to craft a well-rounded collection of tracks fully showcasing his lyrical potential, mixing moments of humour, personal reflection and social commentary with quality beats.
Skunkz – “Skunkz FT Skunkz” (Skunkz.BandCamp.Com) – Boston’s Skunkz fired sharp lyrical darts across a well-chosen selection of self-produced loops on this straight-to-the-point EP, rhyming with the confidence and attitude of an emcee who had just shoulder-barged his way into a street-corner cipher with no intention of showing the competition any respect whatsoever.
Universal Seedz – “Rise Up” (UniversalSeedz.BandCamp.Com) – Combining elements of jazz, soul, spoken word and Hip-Hop, this EP from Austin, Texas collective Universal Seedz offered a bright, organic explosion of good grooves and uplifting positivity.
Mecca:83 – “NinetyFour” (SolarSoundSystem.BandCamp.Com) – Manchester-based producer Mecca:83 paid homage to the classic 90s boom-bap sound with this masterful collection of head-nodding drums, echoing horns and melodic flavour.
Funky DL – “Twenty” (FunkyDL.BandCamp.Com) – Twenty-three years after the release of his 1997 debut album “Classic Was The Day”, UK producer-on-the-mic Funky DL celebrated his prolific career by delivering his twentieth full-length project, a polished mix of sample-based beats and live instrumentation grounded in the East London artist’s trademark jazz-influenced sound, with a few well-executed musical twists thrown in for good measure.
Estee Nack & Superior – “Baladas” (BelowSystem.Com) – Tragic Allies emcee Estee Nack teamed-up with German producer Superior for this sublime slice of underground excellence, the latest in a steady stream of releases which have seen the Massachusetts-based lyricist’s rep grow ever bigger, thanks to his consistent work ethic and top-tier pen game.
Planet Asia & 38 Spesh – “Trust The Chain” (AirVinyls.BandCamp.Com) – Enlisting the production talents of Rochester, NY’s 38 Spesh for this particular release, veteran West Coast wordsmith Planet Asia provided further proof of why he deserves to be mentioned in GOAT conversations, lacing Spesh’s accomplished studio work with his inimitable brand of street science and Five Percent-influenced rhymes.
Cyrus Malachi – “The Blind Watchmaker” (RevorgRecords.BandCamp.Com) – Over the years, London’s Cyrus Malachi has made a name for himself as a purveyor of descriptive, heavy-mental wordplay. From his work as a founding member of Triple Darkness to his solo endeavours, the gruff-voiced emcee has consistently delivered intricate rhymes which take your mind in multiple directions, from ancient pyramids to inner-city pavements. This DJ Drinks / Evil Ed-produced album was no different, as Cyrus weaved gripping lyricism around stripped-down beats with an authority that demanded the listener’s attention.
Big Ghost LTD – “Carpe Noctem” (BigGhostLimited.BandCamp.Com) – Assembling on some Hip-Hop Avengers ish, producer Big Ghost LTD pulled together a formidable crew of dope emcees to lace his supreme beats for this impressive collection of raw posse cuts. Underground favourites such as Recognize Ali, Crimeapple and Asun Eastwood all proved that steel sharpens steel, with no artist featured here wanting to be outdone and everyone bringing their best to the table.
Bloo & Spanish Ran – “MF BLOO” (SpanishRan1.BandCamp.Com) – To anyone confused by this album’s title and cover art, “MF BLOO” most definitely was NOT the work of an overenthusiastic soundalike or a second-rate mixtape-style project. Whilst obviously meant as a nod of respect to enigmatic (and sadly recently deceased) rap figure MF DOOM, Bronx emcee / producer duo Bloo and Spanish Ran weren’t hiding behind anyone else’s mask on this release, saving the day with quality music in their own super-rhyme adventures.
Check Part Three here.