Eto x Futurewave – “Vintage” (FXCKRXP.BandCamp.Com / 2023)
Taken from the NY / Toronto duo’s new collaboration album “Dead Poets”.
Eto x Futurewave – “Vintage” (FXCKRXP.BandCamp.Com / 2023)
Taken from the NY / Toronto duo’s new collaboration album “Dead Poets”.
Es x Das Da Beat Junkie ft DJ GlibStylez – “DOERS” (EsMuzik.BandCamp.Com / 2023)
Canada’s Es proves actions speak louder than words and why sometimes silence really is golden on this lead single off his forthcoming album “Driver Or Driven” which is produced entirely by Toronto’s Das Da Beat Junkie.
Es – “You Want A Piece Of Me?” (EsMuzik.BandCamp.Com) – Canadian emcee Es is the type of artist who can can easily feel like a familiar friend the more time you spend listening to his music. With an easy-going-yet-engaging flow, relatable rhymes and a willingness to be open and honest about a variety of topics, Es has a priceless ability to make his listeners feel a little better about the world than perhaps they did before they hit ‘Play’. On this J. Pal-produced album, Es kept it personal as always, delivering an uplifting collection of beats and rhymes that touched on family, childhood memories and creative goals.
Cormega – “The Realness II” (RealCormega.BandCamp.Com) – Hip-Hop sequel albums can be a risky prospect. At their worst such releases can sound like an artist’s hollow attempt to relive past glories, which only succeeds in highlighting the possibility that their best days may actually be behind them. Thankfully, this follow up to 2001’s “The Realness” avoided such pitfalls. Speaking from a place of personal growth, this album evoked images of Mega sitting on a bench outside the infamous Queensbridge housing projects contemplating his past, present and future as a boom-box blasted beats from Large Professor, Havoc and The Alchemist amongst others.
Isatta Sheriff & Koralle – “Eat The Kiwi Skin” (IsattaSheriff.BandCamp.Com) – Some artists follow trends to try and fit in. Then there are those artists who couldn’t hide their uniqueness and individuality even if they tried. Artists like Isatta Sheriff, for example. This EP from the East London emcee packed a lot of substance into the six tracks on offer here, with Isatta detailing her own personal journey, speaking on her experiences as a female rapper and her thoughts on the commercialisation of Black culture. The subtle, jazz-influenced production from Spain’s Koralle provided the perfect musical backdrop to allow Sheriff’s rhymes to really shine here.
Bub Styles – “Outerwear Szn 2” (BubStyles.BandCamp) – One of a handful of releases Bub Styles dropped in 2022, for this EP the gravel-voiced Brooklyn emcee sounded like he laced up his Timberlands, pulled on his hoodie, visited the corner-store, battled a kid stood outside who was talking ish, then went straight to the studio and laid down this brilliant slice of rugged New York rap.
Diamonds In Space – “Diamonds In Space Vol. 1” (DiamondsInSpace.BandCamp.Com) – Lively, animated rhymes and mellow, melodic beats could be found in abundance on this well-crafted album from Kansas City-based duo Aaron Alexander and Lnrd D$troy. A compelling, addictive mix of street-smart observations, moments of introspection and intoxicating production.
Shane Kidd – “Good Mourning” (ShaneKidd.BandCamp.Com) – Emerging from a period of depression and creative frustration, Atlanta-based artist Shane Kidd drew heavily on those personal experiences for his third album, an emotionally-charged selection of tracks that found the Southern emcee reevaluating life with a strong sense of hope and determination. Truly inspirational music.
Paul Wall & Termanology – “Start 2 Finish” (TermanologyST.BandCamp.Com) – On paper, Houston’s Paul Wall and Lawrence, MA’s Termanology may have looked like an unexpected combination, but the end result was a full-length collaboration which showcased a genuine partnership that brought the best out of both artists. Produced largely by Statik Selektah, with contributions from Pete Rock, Dame Grease and J Cardim, the album comfortably occupied the musical middle ground between Southern bass and East Coast boom-bap. Grills optional.
OC From NC – “The List God Sent Us” (OCFromNC.BandCamp.Com) – Representing his North Carolina stomping grounds in no uncertain terms, OC From NC sounded hungry and focused on this album, attacking tracks with the energy of an emcee in a rhyme cypher with something to prove rather than an established artist dropping his eighth release.
Verbz & Mr Slipz – “Where It Started” (HighFocus.BandCamp.Com) – Taking a walk down memory lane, London’s Verbz relived the trials and triumphs of his Croydon youth on this impressive EP, with the sample-free production of Brighton’s Mr Slipz providing a mesmerizing sonic backdrop which perfectly complimented the nostalgic verses heard here.
iLLah – “MiDNigHT SoUP” (iLLah.BandCamp.Com) – Toronto’s iLLah had a lot on his mind in 2022, with this album finding the dynamic emcee darting in all directions lyrically, touching on politics, religion, social unrest and conspiracy theories whilst accompanied by the vintage jazz-infused sound of producer SuNYA.
Tokyo Cigar x August Fanon – “Lexus Money” (TokyoCigarMusic.BandCamp) – Epic collaboration album from Maryland’s Tokyo Cigar and Dallas-raised producer August Fanon that was packed with intricate, deep-dive lyricism and expertly selected samples. Music to ponder the science of life to whilst dipped in the freshest Polo gear.
IAMGAWD x The Black Depths – “Murder Castle” (Filthe.BandCamp.Com) – When Chicago’s IAMGAWD said on this album “No, I do not fear a single one of my Hip-Hop peers, I drop bombs, You drop tears..” it was difficult not to believe him on all points. A formidable emcee who clearly rhymes with the intention of every word having maximum impact, GAWD dominated the raw, ominous beats of The Black Depths, spitting venomous darts at the competition with expert accuracy whilst also offering up-close-and-personal commentary on the reality of the Windy City’s cold streets.
Kamanchi Sly – “Master Plan” (HipHop73.Com) – Almost thirty-five years since his vinyl debut with legendary group Hijack and having dropped over ten self-produced solo albums since 2017, this latest K-Sly release was further proof that time definitely hasn’t dampened the London emcee’s passion for Hip-Hop culture and the art of rap. Sounding energetic and enthused, Kamanchi tore through a selection of true-school breaks and beats with all the attitude and confidence we’ve come to expect from one of the UK’s homegrown pioneers.
DK x Ghettosocks – “Listen To The Masters” (DKProducer.BandCamp.Com) – Students of the game, Canada’s DK and Ghettosocks put the lessons learnt from growing-up with the greats in rotation to good use on this collection of sophisticated mood music. Timeless flows could be found throughout this album, with microphone royalty such as Skyzoo, CL Smooth and O.C. joining Ghettosocks to bless DK’s jazz-tinged beats with butter-smooth verses.
Fly Anakin – “Frank” (LexRecords.BandCamp.Com) – Virginia’s Mutant Academy have been one of the most exciting collectives in the rap game for a number of years now, with Fly Anakin playing a large part in building the crew’s reputation for great music. This album went some way to introducing Anakin’s rapid-fire rhymes to a wider audience, with the lush, hypnotic soundscapes provided by the likes of Foisey, Sycho Sid and Jay Versace helping to this full-length masterpiece feel like a seamless sonic high.
DoamPeace x DFACE DXA – “The Goldilocks Zone” (DoamPeace.BandCamp.Com) – NY’s DXA crew have consistently delivered quality music over many years now and this release from two members of the camp was no exception to that rule – solid beats, clever rhymes and creative sampling.
Elzhi & Georgia Anne Muldrow – “Zhigeist” (NatureSounds.BandCamp.Com) – Absolute greatness. That’s the quickest and easiest way to describe this album from Detroit’s Elzhi and LA’s Georgia Anne Muldrow. Both parties involved floated close to another creative dimension on this one, with the Motor City emcee challenging your third-eye to keep-up with his densely packed wordplay, whilst Muldrow’s ethereal grooves simultaneously massaged and soothed those same brain-cells that were being put to work.
Bloo Azul & Spanish Ran – “Once In A Bloo” (BlooAzul.BandCamp.Com) – There are some musical partnerships who bring the best out of each other with such apparent ease it would appear they were destined to work together. Bronx pair Bloo and Spanish Ran definitely deserve a place on that list and this album was another undeniable example of why. Ran’s exquisite, vibe-filled loops seemed tailor-made for Bloo’s observational, everyman lyrics, resulting in a few more of New York’s eight million stories being told in memorable fashion.
J.Rocc – “A Wonderful Letter” (JRocc.BandCamp.Com) – Turntable titan and Beat Junkies member J.Rocc paid homage to his hometown of Los Angeles with this ambitious concept album, deftly covering many styles associated with the City Of Angels, from 80s-style electro and speaker-slapping funk to the underground Hip-Hop of featured artists such as LMNO, Key-Kool and MED. California love, indeed.
Touré Masters – “Kin9” (ToureMasters.BandCamp.Com) – A genuinely skilled wordsmith, Arizona’s Touré Masters dropped one of the most captivating albums of 2022, with his urgent rhyme style driving home the meaning in his verses and really pulling the listener into his world. Navigating the realities of street life whilst looking forward towards positive progression, Masters came across here as a real person with real feelings rather than as a one-dimensional rapper retreading familiar creative ground. He really put his lifetime in-between the paper’s lines.
Check Part Four here.
Check Part One here.
Napoleon Da Legend & Giallo Point – “Buckets” (NapoleonDaLegend.BandCamp.Com) – There may be an ocean and thousands of miles separating this US / UK partnership, but the latest outing from Napoleon Da Legend and Giallo Point flowed so seamlessly you would have been forgiven for thinking they were sat next to each other in a studio throughout the entire recording process. Confident, street-savvy verses were paired here with tight, polished production.
Triple Darkness – “KURAYAMI” (TripleDarkness.BandCamp) – Coming through like an army of battle-ready Hip-Hop warriors swinging heavy lyrical swords, the UK’s mighty Triple Darkness collective dropped their first group album since 2015, with members such as Solar Black, Ray Vendetta and Cyrus Malachi spitting evocative, powerful rhymes over thunderous beats from Soss, Tony Mahoney and DJ Drinks. This album was proof that TD remain one of the most talented and formidable crew’s in the rap game.
DIE-REK – “Year Of Redemption” (Illect.BandCamp.Com) – Drawing inspiration from both his spiritual beliefs and personal experiences, this second album from Canada’s DIE-REK was an impressive collection of life-affirming rhymes and standout, self-produced tracks. Music designed to invigorate your mind, body and soul.
Tom Caruana – “Strange Planet” (TeaSeaRecords.BandCamp.Com) – UK producer Tom Caruana voyaged back-to-the-future on this sci-fi-influenced concept album, with intergalactic rhyme explorers such as Mr. Lif, Jehst and Prince Po defying gravity as they floated over the unique beats on offer here with their lyrical phasers set to stun. Lift off!
ActProof – “Between Us And The World – Ep 1: Amped Up” (ActProofOfficial.Com) – Ten years after the release of their well-received “Black Boy Radio” album, North Carolina’s Sundown and Enigma made a welcome return from their musical hiatus with a three-part EP series, with this first instalment featuring the pair trading conversational rhymes over drum-heavy, neck-snapping production from long-time collaborator AMP.
Prox Centauri – “Emergence” (ProxCentauri.BandCamp.Com) – Flint, Michigan’s Prox Centauri has quickly become one of my favourite artists of recent times, with this release placing tracks that dropped throughout 2022 (featuring Skyzoo, Planet Asia and KXNG Crooked) alongside a handful of new cuts, all of which effectively showcased the Midwest-based microphone master’s intricate wordplay and self-assured flow.
Backwood Sweetie & Furious Stylez – “Sweetie Got Stylez” (BackwoodSweetie.BandCamp.Com) – Following-up 2021’s brilliant “Christina Shauntay” album, Maryland’s Backwood Sweetie teamed-up with talented Chicago-raised producer Furious Stylez for a seven-track dose of passionate Hip-Hop rooted in empowerment and integrity. Possessing the type of delivery that demands attention, this EP further highlighted Sweetie as being a gifted artist with much to offer the rap world (also, a special mention has to go to featured emcee K!ng jvmes for dropping one of the hardest-hitting verses of the year on “Long Story Short”).
J Rawls – “#jazzhop” (PolarEntLLC.BandCamp.Com) – The Ohio producer exceeded his own high standards with this album, a warm, welcoming collection of expertly-crafted instrumentals which, as the man himself said, were “reminiscent of the J Rawls sound from the late 90s and early 2000s”. A perfect sonic snapshot of the Midwest maestro’s well-rounded musical abilities.
I Self Devine – “That Which Is Hidden” (ImprovisedWeaponry.BandCamp.Com) – The veteran Minneapolis artist pondered questions around religion, spirituality and life on this concept album produced by The Original Copy. As we all find ourselves attempting to navigate the maze of today’s increasingly unsettled times, I Self Devine sought to encourage listeners to walk towards a path of enlightenment that would ultimately allow us to transcend the constraints of the matrix we find ourselves surrounded by.
Westside Gunn – “10” (GriseldaxFR.Com) – Love him or hate him one thing was for certain, Buffalo’s king of curation Westside Gunn wasn’t about to allow anyone to prevent him from continuing to supply the culture with his distinctive brand of art in 2022. Although “10” featured a long list of carefully chosen guests such as Black Star, Busta Rhymes and Ghostface, it was Gunn’s inimitable vocal delivery and vivid street commentary that remained the main attraction here. The FlyGod continued to soar above the clouds.
Agallah Don Bishop – “The Year Of The Tiger” (Agallah.BandCamp.Com) – Brooklyn’s Agallah has had a storied career both behind the mic and behind the boards. Since the 90s the NY-raised artist’s name has continuously rung bells within Hip-Hop circles and deservedly so. But not content with resting on past glories, the Don Bishop’s work rate in recent years has continuously proven his ability to compete in today’s underground scene whilst he’s dropped some of his best work. “The Year Of The Tiger” was a testament to Agallah’s staying power, combining moments of raw honesty and reflection with sheer confidence and boldness.
Sean Boog – “Between Midnights” (SeanBoog.BandCamp.Com) – The talented Sean Boog dropped the third release in his “Midnight” series, which was another brilliant EP from the North Carolina emcee that was full of down-to-earth, contemplative rhymes laced with sharp wit, backed by masterful production from Chris Charles.
T-Nyce & Jorai – “Supreme Talk” (JoraiMusic.BandCamp.Com) – South Carolina-based duo T-Nyce and Jorai delivered personal, heartfelt rhymes on this collaborative album, with production from Sypooda, Juno, Happy Walters and more matching the mood of the pair’s verses. Fully aware of the influence Hip-Hop can have on its audience, this Southern partnership clearly wanted this album to have a positive impact on those who heard it thanks to their honest approach to the music.
Sol Messiah – “GOD CMPLX” (SolMessiah.BandCamp.Com) – Having initially caught the attention of many thanks to his work with the great Sa-Roc (who was featured heavily here), eyes and ears were on Atlanta producer Sol Messiah when this album was announced. Thankfully it lived up to expectations, with the likes of Murs, TriState and Che Noir spitting over SM’s diverse and unpredictable soundscapes.
Daniel Son – “The Bush Doctor” (FXCKRXP.Com) – It’s a real talent to be able to make rhymes that have clearly been crafted with attention and precision sound completely effortless. This is something that Canada’s Daniel Son has been doing since the early days of his musical journey and that he continued to do with charismatic flair throughout this release for Germany’s FXCK RXP label. Cinematic verses detailing capers and escapades created vivid images in the listener’s mind, with sonic contributions from the likes of Futurewave, Finn and Giallo Point adding to the feeling of dramatic tension running throughout the album.
Chill Rob G – “Empires Crumble” (ChillRobG.BandCamp.Com) – As a member of New Jersey’s legendary Flavor Unit, Chill Rob G secured his place in Hip-Hop’s history books with his involvement in a handful of late-80s / early-90s classics. Over three decades later, this C-Doc-helmed album found the veteran emcee proving that ain’t a damn thing changed but the year, coming correct with elder statesman rhymes over lively, energetic beats which nodded respectfully towards the golden-age.
Storm Watkins – “Blue” (StormWatkins.BandCamp.Com) – Dedicated to the memory of his father who sadly passed away in 2022, Baltimore’s Storm Watkins channeled his feelings into this very personal instrumental project with powerful and poignant results. Emotionally-charged beats that made speakers pop at the same time as they tugged on heartstrings.
Sadat X – “Science Of Life” (Soulspazm.BandCamp.Com) – One of the most recognisable voices in rap, Brand Nubian’s Sadat X continued to add-on to his legacy with this aptly-titled album, which found the Now Rule emcee dropping grown man jewels laced with Five Percent lessons accompanied by underground favourites such as Crimeapple, Roc Marciano and Planet Asia.
Stan Ipcus – “Foliage” (StanIpcus.BandCamp) – If you were looking for an emcee with genuine character and personality in 2022, then NY’s Stan Ipcus deserved your attention. Possessing an easygoing, laidback flow and a natural lyrical wit, Big Ip showcased his notable rhyming talents on this seven-track selection of both previously-released and brand new cuts, with production from Jason Griff, Disco Vietnam and Max Bent.
Enrichment – “It’s A New Day” (Enrichment.BandCamp.Com) – Having worked with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Lloyd Banks and Benny The Butcher, New Jersey artist Enrichment offered thoughtful, contemplative rhymes here with smooth-yet-sturdy self-produced beats which perfectly matched his confident, conversational flow.
Check Part Three here.
King Bliss – “Top Shotta” (KingBlissEnt.BandCamp.Com / 2023)
Bes Kept-produced head-nodder with a Dancehall twist from the Canadian emcee.
Raz Fresco & Sadhugold – “Watching Via Satellites” (BKRSCLB.Com / 2022)
Canada’s Raz Fresco transmits live and direct on this lead track from his forthcoming Sadhugold-produced album.
iLLAH – “Wisdom” (iLLAH.BandCamp.Com / 2022)
Reflective, thought-provoking rhymes from Toronto’s iLLAH on this mellow track lifted from his recent SuNYA-produced album “Midnight Soup”.
Canada’s Infinite P serves up another heavy dose of quality instrumental flavour to soothe the soul.
Es – “Home” (EsMuzik.BandCamp.Com / 2022)
Warm, personal vibes from Canada’s Es on this J.Pal-produced track off the recent album “You Want A Piece Of Me?”.
UFO Fev x Finn – “Wash The Bills” (@UFOFev / 2022)
Lead single off the forthcoming “Blood On The Bills” album from NYC’s UFO Fev and Canadian producer Finn.
Richie & Asun Eastwood – “No McDonald’s” (GoldEraMusic.Com / 2022)
Produced by Slang Hugh.
Raz Fresco & Mike Shabb – “Bad Decisions” (@RazFresco / @Floccon1 / 2022)
Raz Fresco delivers precise lyrical darts and Mike Shabb provides string-heavy loops on this impressive track from the Canadian duo’s forthcoming collabo album dropping via the BKRSCLB label.
The 6th Letter ft. Daniel Son – “Hands Clean” (BKRSCLB.Com / 2022)
Talented Canadian emcees The 6th Letter and Daniel Son trade verses over smooth beats from the Raz Fresco-produced album “Get Baked”.
Raz Fresco & Dead Hippie – “Based On A True Story” (BKRSCLB.Com / 2022)
Dead Hippie-directed animation accompanies this self-produced track from Canadian emcee Raz Fresco’s new album “Marvelous Right Wrist”.
DIE-REK – “Year Of Redemption” (Illect.BandCamp.Com / 2022)
Canada’s DIE-REK offers lyrical food for thought over the soulful bump of the title track from his recent self-produced album.
Wizdome Bunitall ft. Cedar Hill & Che Uno – “Who We Are” (@BunItAll / 2022)
Produced by Lancecape.
Rhook Beats ft. Es – “Shine” (RhookBeats.BandCamp.Com / 2022)
Trinidad and Tobago-based producer Rhook Beats breathes new life into a familiar sun-splashed sample for this quality collaboration with Canada’s Es from his “Rhook Tapes Vol. 1” release.
Raz Fresco & Eric Right – “Story Of My Life” (BKRSCLB.Com / 2022)
Canada’s Raz Fresco keeps his third-eye open on this track lifted from his Eric Right-produced EP “Arm Leg Leg Arm Head”.
Thrust OG & BoFaat ft. Tough Dumplin – “Read All About It” (BlackBuffaloRecords.BandCamp.Com / 2022)
Taken from veteran Canadian emcee Thrust OG’s BoFaat-produced album “Broken Arrow”.
Ghettosocks x DK ft. O.C. & Moka Only – “All In” (DKProducer.BandCamp.Com / 2022)
Taken from the Canadian duo’s new album “Listen To The Masters”, which also features CL Smooth, Skyzoo, Rome Streetz and more.