Che` Noir & Big Ghost Ltd ft. 7xvethegenius – “Veracruz” (Che-Noir.Com / 2023)
The two Buffalo emcees deliver sharp wordplay on this quality track lifted from Che` Noir’s new Big Ghost Ltd-produced release “Noir Or Never”.
Che` Noir & Big Ghost Ltd ft. 7xvethegenius – “Veracruz” (Che-Noir.Com / 2023)
The two Buffalo emcees deliver sharp wordplay on this quality track lifted from Che` Noir’s new Big Ghost Ltd-produced release “Noir Or Never”.
Another year goes by. Another almost endless stream of best-of lists get written and posted on websites, blogs and social media platforms. We agree with some lists. We disagree with most lists. We argue over all the lists. We love lists. We hate lists. Some people believe these lists have value. Some people question the point of even attempting to put such lists together. But remember, a best-of list can’t please everyone and should never try to.
For me, compiling a year-end round-up has never been about claiming to have made a definitive list that covers every release that’s been worthy of attention over a particular twelve month period. That would be impossible.
Instead, a year-end list is just a way of me being able to give a nod of gratitude to as many artists as possible whose music I’ve especially enjoyed. It’s really as simple as that.
So, with that being said, who gets props over here?
Phife Dawg – “Forever” (SmokinNeedles.BigCartel.Com) – Handled with obvious love, patience and care, this album from A Tribe Called Quest legend Phife avoided the shortcomings often associated with posthumous releases, sounding fresh, vibrant and organic. Backed by production from the likes of Nottz, DJ Rasta Root and 9th Wonder, the rhymes from the Five-Foot Assassin ranged from witty, humorous punchlines to moments of genuine reflection and vulnerability, the poignancy of which wasn’t lost on listeners fully aware we were hearing the thoughts and feelings of an individual no longer with us. Ultimately a celebration of the life, career and talent of an artist gone far too soon, “Forever” stood as a fitting (if bittersweet) tribute to a Hip-Hop great whose voice many of us grew-up with in our headphones. Rest in peace Phife Dawg.
Juga-Naut – “Time & Place” (JugaNaut.BandCamp.Com) – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Nottingham’s Juga-Naut is one of the most constistent and talented artists of the last decade. Since his debut to the present day, Jugz has walked his own path, inspired by a genuine love of the art and an inner drive to be creative. Ten years in the making, this concept-based album was an epic self-produced journey through the UK artist’s many musical and personal influences, resulting in some of the finest beats and rhymes you were likely to hear in 2022 and beyond. A naturally gifted individual, Juga-Naut has repeatedly reached new levels of excellence with each of his releases, and “Time & Place” pushed the bar even higher. The man appears to have no competition but himself.
A.G. – “Giant In The Mental” (FatBeatsRecords.BandCamp.Com) – A true golden-era great, Diggin’ In The Crates favourite Andre The Giant delivered his well-known brand of hardcore lyrical Bronx science throughout this succinct release, accompanied by choice production from DJ Manipulator, Dark Keys and Showbiz. With no guest appearances to be found, A.G. went for dolo on the mic here, giving listeners ample opportunity to fully appreciate both his timeless flow and dedication to his craft over thirty years since he first dropped on wax.
Apollo Brown & Philmore Greene – “Cost Of Living” (MellowMusicGroup.BandCamp.Com) – An authoritative voice of experience speaking from inner-city Chicago, Philmore Greene had already dropped a number of notable projects prior to teaming-up with Detroit boom-bap maestro Apollo Brown, but it quickly became apparent that “Cost Of Living” was some of the Windy City representative’s best work. Bolstered by Apollo’s knocking drums, sweeping strings and soulful vocal snippets, Greene painted detailed verbal pictures of Chicago’s West Side, weaving personal memories, life observations and social commentary into his often sobering verses. This album was the sound of two masters at work.
3 The God Way – “Mount Olympus” (HumbleMonarch.BandCamp.Com) – DMV trio Kaimbr, Sean Born and Let The Dirt Say Amen combined their talents on this quality group album which was full of soul-drenched production, sharp rhymes and appearances from notable names like Kenn Starr, yU and Uptown XO. Evoking images of the threesome passing mics in a basement, chopping it up about world events and local news inbetween unearthing dope loops and spitting competition-crushing rhymes with a casual swagger, “Mount Olympus” was a totally immersive listening experience that pulled you deep into the God zone.
SPNDA x Grubby Pawz – “Oil Can” (CityYardMusic.BandCamp) – Reigniting the creative chemistry heard on 2017’s “Steel Sharpens Steel” and 2018’s “Holographic”, Boston duo SPNDA and Grubby Pawz came together once again to deliver a full-length collection of streetwise rhymes from a balanced perspective coupled with smooth, mellow production. A shining example of the musical magic that can be created when one emcee and one producer lock in together on the same target.
Funky DL – “Still Classic” (FunkyDL.BandCamp.Com) – Twenty five years ago in 1997 prolific UK artist Funky DL dropped his debut album “Classic Was The Day”. In 2022, instead of celebrating the album’s anniversary by simply re-releasing it, the London-raised producer-on-the-mic put together this entertaining concept-based EP full of new music capturing DL’s memories and experiences from those early days in his career.
Farma – “Farma’s £10 Bag Volume 1” (FarmaBeats.BandCamp.Com) – UK Hip-Hop legend Farma of MUD Fam / Task Force fame has kept busy in recent years supplying beats to underground heavyweights such as Mach-Hommy, Rome Streetz, Conway and many more. With this particular compilation release, however, Farma chose to focus on the undeniable amount of talent within the British scene. Homegrown favourites such as Essa, MysDiggi and SonnyJim were on the roll call here, showcasing their skills over stellar sample-driven production.
Jay iLLestrate – “Doctor Jay” (JayiLLestrate.BandCamp.Com) – Cincinnati’s Jay iLLestrate took it to the hoop creatively on this entertaining basketball-influenced album that was packed with accomplished, sometimes quirky lyricism and engaging production from Toonorth, Gatekeeper, Grillo and Prof Logik. A lively mix of personality and talent.
Milano Constantine & Big Ghost Ltd – “Pay The Ghost” (BigGhostLimited.BandCamp.Com) – Over twenty years since his debut, Diggin’ In The Crates affiliate Milano is still carrying on tradition and repping for the 80s / 90s New York he grew-up in with all the pride of a Yankees fan on game day. Teaming-up here with ever-impressive producer Big Ghost Ltd, this album featured Constantine’s cinematic verses being matched with tense, atmospheric beats. The end product sounded like a late-night subway ride across the Rotten Apple.
Nejma Nefertiti – “Tongue Fu” (NejmaNefertiti.BandCamp.Com) – A short, potent dose of firebrand lyricism, this four-track EP from Brooklyn’s Nejma Nefertiti found the NY-based artist dropping punchy rhymes full of b-girl attitude over Kool M Da Loop Digga production, with strong guest appearances from Napoleon Da Legend and Zach Lost.
El Jazzy Chavo – “S950 Funk” (Funkypselicave.BandCamp.Com) – Imitated but never duplicated, the crunch and thump of the Akai S950 was fully celebrated by Greece’s El Jazzy Chavo on this instrumental album. The head-nod factor was high throughout, with the dusty-fingered beats stirring-up memories of an era that has long since passed but that remains a time period cherished by all who lived through it.
Dell-P – “The People’s Emcee” (Dell-P.BandCamp.Com) – Produced entirely by New Jersey duo Trac-Qaeda, this latest album from Philly’s Dell-P was another worthy addition to his already impeccable catalogue. Grounded in the realities of daily life but laced with optimism and hope as always, the Illadeph artist’s rhymes offered motivation and inspiration in equal measures, backed by well-crafted beats.
Jazz Spastiks – “Intomental” (JazzSpastiks.BandCamp.Com) – Longstanding purveyors of sublime sample-based music, the UK’s Jazz Spastiks returned once more with a rich collection of laidback flavour for our listening pleasure. Expertly put together and with a genuine feeling of warmth running throughout, this album was the perfect way to ease your mind in today’s stressful times.
Jones Brothers – “Apollo” (FlukeBeatMusic.BandCamp.Com) – The UK’s Joker Starr and Anyway Tha God reunited for a new Jones Brothers project, with the pair delivering incisive, swaggering rhymes laced with social commentary over brilliant production from veteran London-based music man Apollo.
Brainorchestra – “Big Brain” (Brainorchestra.BandCamp.Com) – The rise of producer-on-the-mic Brainorchestra during recent years has been a genuine pleasure to witness. “Big Brain” appeared to draw a metaphorical line in the sand, simultaneously signalling the end of one career phase and the beginning of the next stage of growth and progression for the New Jersey artist. With a keen ear for a great sample and a natural rhyming ability, Brainorchestra could only continue to move in the right direction after the release of this album.
Da Flyy Hooligan – “Ben Kingsley” (GourmetDeluxx.BandCamp.Com) – Smooth, sharp and stylish like butter-soft leather jackets and box-fresh footwear, London’s Da Flyy Hooligan lived up to his name once again on this album, delivering larger-than-life rhymes over top-shelf production from the mighty Micall Parknsun.
360 Physicals – “Style Crown” (NoelPolandRecords.BandCamp.Com) – Skills. That’s what this album was about. Having honed their respective crafts within the UK’s 90s Hip-Hop scene, the 360 Physicals crew reunited in 2022, with Killa Kela, Koaste, Jonny Virgo and Cristo Cannes celebrating the past whilst demonstrating their ability to still reign supreme in the present and beyond. Brilliantly produced by Kong The Artisan, “Style Crown” bristled with energy and passion.
Fatnice – “The Baddest” (IllVibeMedia.BandCamp.Com) – A stalwart of the Philly rap scene, Fatnice blended emcee bravado, social commentary and storytelling skills on this short-but-effective album, proving that sometimes less really is more. With the likes of The Blue Ninja, Mr. Sonny James and Kush Oxford supplying melodic, upbeat production, “The Baddest” blew out of the speakers like a refreshing blast of cool air.
Count Bass D – “All Due Respect” (CountBassD.BandCamp.Com) – The ever-busy Count Bass D returned with another lesson in high-level beat science, crafting an instrumental album that pulsated with the sounds of slick funk and sweet soul. Music to groove to.
Check Part Two here.
Posted in Album Reviews
Tagged 3 The God Way, 360 Physicals, A.G., Apollo Brown, Big Ghost Ltd, Brainorchestra, Count Bass D, Da Flyy Hooligan, Dell-P, East Coast Hip-Hop, El Jazzy Chavo, Farma, Fatnice, Funky DL, Grubby Pawz, Independent Hip-Hop, Jay iLLestrate, Jazz Spastiks, Jones Brothers, Juga-Naut, Midwest Hip-Hop, Milano Constantine, Nejma Nefertiti, Phife Dawg, Philmore Greene, SPNDA, UK Hip-Hop, Underground Hip-Hop
Knowledge The Pirate & Big Ghost Ltd – “Young N Dumb” (@PirateKnowledge / 2022)
Cautionary rhymes from The Pirate on this latest track to be lifted from his Big Ghost Ltd-produced album “Wolves Don’t Eat With Shepherds”
Knowledge The Pirate & Big Ghost LTD – “Wolves Eat” (@PirateKnowledge / 2022)
The enigmatic Pirate returns with another dose of been-there-done-that-seen-it-all street rap from his forthcoming Big Ghost LTD-produced album “Wolves Don’t Eat With Shepherds”.
Posted in Music Videos
Tagged Big Ghost Ltd, Independent Hip-Hop, Knowledge The Pirate, Underground Hip-Hop
Final part of my 2021 wrap-up – check Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four.
UFO Fev & Vanderslice – “Enigma Of Dali” (UFOFev.BandCamp.Com) – One thing that’s become abundantly clear over the last couple of years is that Harlem’s UFO Fev has a great ear for choosing producers to work with that really compliment his style. With Statik Selektah, Termanology and Big Ghost Ltd all having laced the NY emcee with superb beats on full-length efforts during 2020, 2021 found Fev teaming-up with the consistently dope Vanderslice for “Enigma Of Dali”, painting colourful lyrical portraits which captured the essence of life in the Rotten Apple.
Damu The Fudgemunk – “Conversation Peace” (DamuTheFudgemunk.BandCamp.Com) – Having been given full access to the musical vaults of London’s KPM Library for this release, you could almost feel Damu’s glee and excitement bursting out of the grooves here from beats crafted after being blessed with the opportunity to dig through thousands of records. Joined by Raw Poetic, Insight, Blu and Nitty Scott, the Washington DC producer soared above the clouds, nodding to the 90s on the way up without getting stuck in the past or overdosing on nostalgia. “Conversation Peace” was a genuinely invigorating listening experience.
Cesar Comanche & Poe Mack – “A Promise Not To Sting” (CesarComanche.BandCamp.Com) – This collaborative album from North Carolina’s Cesar Comanche (of Justus League fame) and Virginia’s Poe Mack really struck a chord with me. It was the sound of two individuals who’ve lived life and learnt lessons ruminating on the past, present and future in a world undergoing huge change. Production from the likes of 9th Wonder, Khrysis and DJ Flash gave the album a vintage (and at times fittingly melancholy) feel, with Comanche and Mack bouncing purposeful verses back and forth with ease.
Verb T & Illinformed – “Stranded In Foggy Times” (VerbT.BandCamp.Com) – The third and final part of Verb T and Illinformed’s “Foggy” trilogy, this album once again showcased the brilliant writing ability of the UK emcee with the verses here consisting of well-crafted meaningful lyrics, some of which were straight-to-the-point whilst others were open to interpretation. Backed by the quality production of Illinformed, which perfectly complimented Verb’s conversational, laidback rhyme style, T approached this release with all the skill, poise and confidence you’d expect from an artist who has shown nothing but constant elevation throughout his twenty year career.
Kamanchi Sly – “Electrosis 2” (HipHop73.Com) – Pulling on his shelltoes and Nike windbreaker once again, UK legend K-Sly dropped three “Electrosis” albums during 2021, with each one celebrating the sounds and excitement of Hip-Hop in the early-to-mid 1980s with genuine love and authenticity. The Hijack legend sounded as sharp and enthusiastic as ever, clearly reveling in the opportunity to revisit old-school memories of being a young London b-boy four decades ago, whilst still proudly displaying the same competition-crushing attitude that fuelled UK classics such as “Style Wars” and “Hold No Hostage”.
Swank & King Draft – “Long Story Short” (JamlaRecords.Com) – North Carolina’s Swank and King Draft once again proved themselves to be a potent combination on this sophomore album. Slick, witty wordplay glided effortlessly over the smooth, R&B-influenced production from 9th Wonder and Jamla’s Soul Council. At a time when playlists and random shuffle options have contributed to some artists thinking less about an album as a cohesive body of work sequenced to take listeners on a journey, Swank and Draft succeeded in capturing and maintaining a mood throughout “Long Story Short” which gave the album a strong sense of momentum. For that, they get props over here.
Little Simz – “Sometimes I Might Be Introvert” (LittleSimz.Com) – The latest long-player from London’s Little Simz was an album of epic proportions. The subject matter. The delivery. The production. The interludes. The cover. The execution. The openness. The honesty. Every element of this album contributed to it being something truly special. Simz confronted a number of issues with a mix of both strength and vulnerability, accompanied by the masterfully diverse musicality of producer Inflo, as listeners were swept along on a wave of emotion that by the end of the album made it feel as if we to had been on our own voyage of self-discovery.
Mach-Hommy – “Pray For Haiti” (Mach-Hommy.Com) – Reunited with Griselda Records’ Westside Gunn and backed by ambitious production from the likes of Camoflauge Monk, Conductor Williams and Nicholas Craven, with “Pray For Haiti” New Jersey’s enigmatic Mach-Hommy delivered a rich tapestry of sound that was packed with elegant arrogance, unabashed individuality and joyful spontaneity. This album felt like the musical equivalent of looking through a kaleidoscope and sounded all the better for it.
Cons – “B.A.D.A.” (Ottoman Elf) – A veteran of the UK Hip-Hop scene, London’s Cons (aka Conspicuous) returned after an eight year hiatus with the hunger and vigour of a new artist, balanced with the benefit of hindsight and a wisdom that can only come from life experience. Reuniting with longstanding collaborators such as Apollo, LG and Evil Ed, Cons dropped street knowledge and elder statesman advice throughout “B.A.D.A.”, proving that if you’re nice on the mic device it really doesn’t matter how much time passes between projects.
Tanya Morgan – “Don and Von” (TanyaMorgan.BandCamp.Com) – Fifteen years since Tanya Morgan’s cult classic debut “Moonlighting” dropped, Von Pea and Donwill added a new release to their already impressive catalogue. Combining everyday life events and social commentary with wit and humour, the duo endeared themselves to listeners as always, coming across as two down-to-earth individuals who it might be cool to spend time kicking it with about music, politics and current events. Production from the likes of Brick Beats, Clint Taylor and Aeon also helped this album standout from the pack.
Fashawn & Sir Veterano – “All Hail The King” (FreshYardRecords.Com) – Fresno’s Fashawn returned to claim his crown with this album skillfully produced by fellow Cali Hip-Hop head Sir Veterano, with features from Elzhi, Aloe Blacc and Planet Asia. Coming in at a concise nine tracks, the West Coast wordsmith didn’t waste a single moment here, tightly packing his verses with fast-paced lyricism which covered hometown pride, building a life with his queen, raising the next generation and, of course, reigning supreme over his kingdom as rap royalty.
Benny Diction – “Facepalm / Brainwave?” (BoomBapPro.Com) – One of the UK’s most consistent artists, any new release from Benny Diction is always a welcome, enjoyable listening experience and this album was no different. Musing on the mundane to the magnificent and everything in-between, the BBP-affiliated emcee’s ability to inject insight and thoughtful observation into his rhymes shone brightly here, with Benny reflecting on the world around him accompanied by top-notch production from the likes of jas0nbeats, Krang and Deltatone.
Joell Ortiz – “Autograph” (JoellOrtiz.BandCamp.Com) – Honesty has been a theme that’s always run throughout the music of Brooklyn’s Joell Ortiz. Good times. Bad times. Successes. Failures. The NY emcee has consistently spoken on both sides of the game, whether discussing street life, personal life or industry life. “Autograph” was another does of up-close-and-uncut reality, with Ortiz recalling his struggle to get put on in the rap game, his life before that time and his life now as he embraces OG status. The detailed, sincere rhymes heard here were complimented by the production of Apollo Brown, The Heatmakerz, Salaam Remi and more.
Ransom & Big Ghost Ltd – “Heavy Is The Head” (Ransom.Com) – Jersey City’s Ransom clearly had one thing on his mind when recording this album and one thing only – lyrical domination. Joined by the likes of Mickey Factz, RJ Payne and Rome Streetz, Ransom fired off barrages of relentlessly aggressive rhymes over Big Ghost’s fittingly raw production. No holds barred. No prisoners taken. This was the sound of an emcee getting medieval on the competition.
Minnesota – “Once Upon A Handshake” (JBS Management) – Producer-slash-emcee Minnesota of the Bronx’s legendary Money Boss crew served up a raw slice of Rotten Apple rap with this solo album. A collection of hardcore beats and rhymes straight from the birthplace of Hip-Hop, this project was full of vivid inner-city imagery, BX swagger and vintage beat science. As KRS-One once said, the Bronx keeps creating it.
Passport Rav – “Sand In My Carry On” (PassportRav.BandCamp.Com) – Brooklyn’s Passport Rav crafted a laidback, reflective masterpiece for his seventh release to have dropped over the last two years. Mixing dense lyricism with breezy hooks and mellow production from Sebb Bash and Wavy Da Ghawd, Rav’s latest opus was mood music of the highest quality that both soothed and stimulated the mind.
Your Old Droog – “Space Bar” (YourOldDroog.BandCamp.Com) – To be honest, NYC’s Droog has been on a winning streak since his debut in 2014, but with his musical output having noticeably increased since 2019 it would be hard for anyone to question both the work ethic and the talent. An artist who has always seemed simultaneously unimpressed and untouched by whatever else is happening in the Hip-Hop world, Droog continued to create in his own zone with this short-but-effective album. The unshakeable confidence and sly humour heard in YOD’s verses was matched here with production from the likes of 88 Keys, Sadhugold and Elaquent.
Uptown XO – “Culture Over Corporate Vol. III” (OneForceUnited.BandCamp.Com) – The third instalment of the Washington D.C. artist’s COC series, this album saw Uptown XO once again teaming-up with fellow Diamond District member Oddisee to deliver another stellar collection of intelligent, topical rhymes and soulful, neck-snapping beats.
Sean Boog – “It’s Midnight Somewhere: Sector 2” (SeanBoog.BandCamp.Com) – The female voice that guided us through A Tribe Called Quest’s classic third album told us that seven times out of ten, we listen to our music at night. With that in mind, this six-track EP from North Carolina’s Sean Boog appeared tailor-made for nocturnal head-nodding. Dallas-based producer Keelon Donnel’s laidback beats were the perfect match for Boog’s “smooth grown-up s**t” and life-affirming rhymes. This was the ideal soundtrack to throw on when the sun had set to help ease the stresses of the daily grind.
Nas – “Magic” (MassAppeal.Com) – A surprise release on Christmas Eve, as expected the third full-length collaboration from Nas and producer Hit-Boy caused chaos in the social media world over the festive season as heads responded to the album with a variety of opinions. Personally, I really liked it. Nothing on “Magic” sounded forced or overthought. The album had a great natural flow to it from beginning to end. Nas sounded inspired and motivated throughout, with Hit-Boy providing arguably the best production he’s supplied the Queensbridge legend with yet. A memorable way to close what was a great year for new Hip-Hop.
Posted in Album Reviews, East Coast Hip-Hop, UK Hip-Hop, West Coast Hip-Hop
Tagged Benny Diction, Big Ghost Ltd, Cesar Comanche, Cons, Damu The Fudgemunk, East Coast Hip-Hop, Fashawn, Hit-Boy, Illinformed, Independent Hip-Hop, Joell Ortiz, Kamanchi Sly, King Draft, Little Simz, Mach-Hommy, Minnesota, Money Boss, Nas, Passport Rav, Poe Mack, Ransom, Sean Boog, Sir Veterano, Swank, Tanya Morgan, UFO Fev, UK Hip-Hop, Underground Hip-Hop, Uptown XO, Vanderslice, Verb T, West Coast Hip-Hop, Your Old Droog
Eddie Kaine x Big Ghost Ltd – “Connie Hawkins” (BigGhostLimited.BandCamp.Com / 2021)
Check Part One, Part Two, Part Three & Part Four.
REKS – “T.H.I.N.G.S.” (GetOnDown.Com) – Massachusetts-based microphone fiend REKS has been one of the game’s most consistent emcees for the past twenty years. This impressive release contained more powerful poetry from the skilled lyricist, delving deep into both personal experience and commentary on the world around us, with production from the likes of Nottz, Statik Selektah and Apollo Brown adding further weight to the thought-provoking bars.
Him Lo – “SLAPYAGODDAMNFACEOFF” (GrilchyParty.BandCamp.Com) – One-half of Philadelphia’s mighty Buze Bruvaz, lyrical brawler Him Lo dropped yet another fine selection of rugged, politically-incorrect Hip-Hop, packed with rambunctious, head-cracking rhymes and tough beats. A blend of fresh material and older cuts, this project proved that Lo’s style is timeless like a new pair of wheat-coloured Timberlands.
Verb T & Illinformed – “The Land Of The Foggy Skies” (High-Focus.Com) – A worthy follow-up to their 2015 collaboration “The Man With The Foggy Eyes”, UK duo Verb T and Illinformed delivered the goods once again, pairing creative, contemplative rhymes with mesmerizingly melancholy, jazz-influenced beats. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Verb’s multi-layered verses deserve to be studied in schools as they’re pure poetry.
Boom Bap Babies – “We’ll Fly” (BoomBapBabies.BandCamp.Com) – Birmingham, Alabama-based producer / emcee duo RyNea Soul and Shaun Judah mixed uplifting beats with life-affirming rhymes to clear your third-eye vision and vibrate your soul. This was feel-good Hip-Hop with a mission and a message.
Tracey Lee – “Glory” (TraceyLeeMusic.Com) – Veteran Philly emcee Tracey Lee proved that he hadn’t missed a beat since the release of his excellent 1997 debut album, sounding motivated and full of vitality on this Ojizz-produced project, drawing lyrical inspiration from both past experiences and present-day situations. Reflecting on lockdown life during the pandemic, social divisions and daily struggles, Lee injected his rhymes with an energy and spirituality which ultimately gave this album a real sense of hope and optimism.
Roc Marciano – “Mt. Marci” (Fat Beats) – A decade after the release of his game-changing solo album “Marcberg”, Strong Island’s Roc Marciano demonstrated that this underground king’s crown was showing no signs of slipping, with this latest collection of cool-but-deadly cuts boasting plenty of the influential artist’s vivid, larger-than-life wordplay and unique production.
DRS x Redeyes – “Coloured” (MCDRS.BandCamp.Com) – Inspired by the senseless murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed, Manchester’s DRS joined forces with French producer Redeyes to record seven tracks over seven days, dropping this powerful EP in July. Poignant and moving, this release was a world-weary work of art that questioned how racism and prejudice can still exist in a so-called ‘civilised’ society. Truly memorable music.
Rasheed Chappell & Buckwild – “Sinners and Saints” (GetOnDown.Com) – A brilliantly-matched partnership, this collabo album from New Jersey’s Rasheed Chappell and Diggin’ In The Crates legend Buckwild sounded like the work of an established duo. Observational, street-savvy rhymes met well-crafted, sample-based beats here, with the pair complimenting each other’s strengths and making some great music in the process.
Neak – “INNENSTADT” (Neak.BandCamp.Com) – Chicago’s Neak offered an engaging, emotionally-charged look at the realities of inner-city living on this largely self-produced release. With assistance from the likes of Philmore Greene, Rashid Hadee and Slot-A, the talented artist painted poignant portraits of the Windy City with a lyrical style that was both subtle and striking.
Arrested Development – “Don’t Fight Your Demons” (OfficialArrestedDevelopment.BandCamp.Com) – Atlanta’s Grammy award-winning collective returned with a timely dose of edutainment, featuring Speech offering soul-stirring opinions on a number of topics, including racism, mental health and mainstream Hip-Hop. With input from UK producer Configa, this album was rooted in the original essence of the Arrested Development sound but with some well-placed contemporary twists.
UFO Fev & Big Ghost Ltd – “The Ghost Of Albizu” (GourmetDeluxxx.BandCamp.Com) – For his third release of the year, NY’s UFO Fev called on the formidable production skills of the mighty Big Ghost Ltd, with the pair crafting a vibrant example of underground brilliance. 2020 should definitely go down as the year Fev truly stamped his mark on the game, with the previous years of hard-work paying off and translating into a trio of projects that really hit the target.
Ka – “Descendants Of Cain” (BrownsvilleKa.Com) – Brooklyn’s Ka is like a Hip-Hop monk who every now and then comes down from his mountaintop monastery to bestow wisdom and greatness upon his followers, before once again retreating to an existence of meditation and solitude. This latest effort was a haunting collection of intricately-crafted verses packed with streetwise rhymes laced with tragedy, struggle and triumph. The time and hardwork Ka puts into his music is obvious, yet the end results appear effortless.
Benny The Butcher – “Burden Of Proof” (BennyTheButcherStore.Com) – When Griselda’s Butcher said on this album that 2019 was about branding but 2020 was about expanding, he wasn’t joking. The Buffalo trio of Westside Gunn, Conway and Benny had an incredible year, with the Hit Boy-produced “Burden Of Proof” arguably standing as the crew’s strongest release during that period. Benny’s swaggering, voice-of-experience rhymes highlighted both sides of the street game with sincerity, whilst Hit Boy’s production exceeded all expectations. The Butcher coming!
Breis – “Arise & Shine” (MrBreis.Com) – This EP from veteran London-based lyricist Breis was all about positive, uplifting vibes whilst still acknowledging real-life issues and personal struggles. Utilising a diverse selection of production styles from the likes of Keith Lawrence and Artcha, the lively emcee delivered the messages in his music with flair and originality.
Bub Styles x Ace Fayce – “Very Sucio, Muy Picante” (BubStylesBK.BandCamp.Com) – This album from NYC’s Bub Styles sounded like a late-night walk through the streets of Brooklyn to buy blunts from that store that’s always open and always has a crew of Polo-wearing hard-rocks posted up outside. Rough, rugged and raw, the gravel-voiced Styles pummelled Fayce’s moody production here, with the likes of Estee Nack, UFO Fev and Rome Streetz offering lyrical assistance.
Supreme Cerebral x D.Mar – “Soul Trained” (BugzyNino17.BandCamp.Com) – West Coast wordsmith Supreme Cerebral took aim at fellow Cali representative D.Mar’s vintage soul loops and unleashed a barrage of lyrical darts on this well-crafted album. Lush strings, emotionally-charged vocal samples and mellow vibes provided the perfect accompaniment to Cerebral’s razor-sharp delivery.
Untouchable$ – “Untouchable$” (NowaahTheFlood7.BandCamp.Com) – A potent collaboration between underground heavyweights Nowaah The Flood, Ca$ablanca, Kincee and Jay Holly, this Untouchable$ project was the sound of four skilled emcees building off the energy of one another and elevating their skills to even greater heights in the process. Featuring production from the likes of B-Sun, Kurse and Karnate, this project was a sonic monument to the art of lyricism.
LEX & Buck – “Let Go!” (LEXNYRE.BandCamp.Com) – A true student of the game, Queens, NY’s LEX returned with yet another quality project, this time produced by Cali-raised, New York-based music man Buck. LEX’s combination of relatable rhymes and streetwise bravado always makes you feel like you’re listening to one of your boys who’s passed through to kick it for a few, and the tone of this release was no different.
Revenge Of The Truence & Jack Diggs – “Midnight Run” (JackDiggs.BandCamp.Com) – Known for his crate-digging expertise, the UK’s Jack Diggs blessed NYC’s Revenge Of The Truence with an impeccable selection of atmospheric, late-night loops and head-nodding drums on this brilliant release. 2020 was a busy year for MuGGz and Tay Dayne, with the Harlem duo dropping a number of projects. But this gem definitely stood-out as one of their best.
eMCee Killa & Think – “Foreign Ties” (eMCeeKillaHipHop.BandCamp.Com) – No stranger to topical, hard-hitting lyricism, both in his work as a member of UK crew Caxton Press and his solo material, this album from London’s eMCee Killa provided more of the same, with Canadian producer Think supplying some uncompromisingly hardcore beats to bolster the fiery rhymes found here.
Posted in East Coast Hip-Hop, Midwest Hip-Hop, Southern Hip-Hop, UK Hip-Hop, West Coast Hip-Hop
Tagged Ae Fayce, Arrested Development, Benny The Butcher, Big Ghost Ltd, Boom Bap Babies, Breis, Bub Styles, Buckwild, Casablanca, DRS, East Coast Hip-Hop, eMcee Killa, Him Lo, Illinformed, Jack Diggs, Jay Holly, Ka, Kincee, LEX, Midwest Hip-Hop, Neak, Nowaah The Flood, Rasheed Chappell, Redeyes, Reks, Revenge Of The Truence, Roc Marciano, Southern Hip-Hop, Supreme Cerebral, Tracey Lee, UFO Fev, UK Hip-Hop, Untouchable$, Verb T, West Coast Hip-Hop
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.
Posted in East Coast Hip-Hop, UK Hip-Hop, West Coast Hip-Hop
Tagged 38 Spesh, Big Ghost Ltd, Bloo, Blu & Exile, Buckwild, Cyrus Malachi, East Coast Hip-Hop, Estee Nack, Funky DL, Gee Bag, GodBody Science, Illinformed, Independent Hip-Hop, Jorun Bombay, Madlib, Mecca:83, Oh No, Phill Most Chill, Planet Asia, Rome Streetz, Roving Jewel, Skunkz, Southern Hip-Hop, Spanish Ran, Statik Selektah, Superior, The Professionals, Trauma 74, TrueMendous, UFO Fev, UK Hip-Hop, Underground Hip-Hop, Universal Seedz, West Coast Hip-Hop
UFO Fev & Big Ghost Ltd ft. Red Inf – “DXNGXR” (UFOFev.BandCamp.Com / 2020)
Taken from the album “The Ghost Of Albizu”.
UFO Fev & Big Ghost LTD ft. Nems – “Boxcutter Jiu Jitsu” (UFOFev.BandCamp.Com / 2020)
Rotten Apple razor rap from Fev’s forthcoming Big Ghost LTD-produced album “The Ghost Of Albizu”.
Knowledge The Pirate, Lord Juco & Guilty Simpson – “Barracudas” (PorterHausProductions.Com / 2020)
Swaggering Big Ghost LTD-produced rawness off the Porter Haus Productions compilation “Steak & Potatoes Vol.1: The Main Ingredient”.
Rigz & Mooch / Big Ghost Ltd – “Dead Beats” (BigGhostLimited.BandCamp.Com / 2020)
Taken from the NY duo’s recent Big Ghost Ltd-produced album “The Only Way Out”.
Talented producer Big Ghost Ltd has put together a crew of epic proportions for this brilliant full-length release, which features the likes of Estee Nack, Recognize Ali and Crimeapple joining forces on some Hip-Hop Avengers Assemble ish to spit sharp lyrical darts over satisfyingly raw beats.
Big Ghost Ltd / Carpe Noctem – “Benghazi Emporium” (@BigGhostLtd / 2020)
More underground gold from the Carpe Noctem album dropping this week.
Big Ghost Ltd / Carpe Noctem – “Clyde Frazier Minks” (@BigGhostLtd / 2020)
Another epic posse cut from the forthcoming Big Ghost-produced Carpe Noctem project featuring some of the rap game’s finest emcees.
Big Ghost Ltd ft Rigz, Asun Eastwood, Ty Farris etc. – “Gladiator School” (@BigGhostLtd / 2020)
Epic, drama-fuelled posse cut featuring emcees from NY, Toronto, Detroit and more, produced by the mighty Big Ghost Ltd.
Rigz & Mooch – “Re-Up” (@Rigz585 / @DaClothM / 2019)
Taken from the NY duo’s Big Ghost Ltd-produced album “The Only Way Out”.
Posted in East Coast Hip-Hop, Music Videos
Tagged Big Ghost Ltd, Da Cloth, East Coast Hip-Hop, Independent Hip-Hop, Mooch, Rigz, Underground Hip-Hop
Rigz & Mooch ft. M.A.V. – “3AM” (BigGhostLimited.BandCamp.Com / 2019)
The members of NY’s Da Cloth deliver late-night street tales over ominous beats off their new Big Ghost Ltd-produced album “The Only Way Out”.
Posted in East Coast Hip-Hop, Music Videos
Tagged Big Ghost Ltd, Da Cloth, East Coast Hip-Hop, Independent Hip-Hop, Mooch, Rigz, Underground Hip-Hop
Having worked on projects with the likes of Ghostface Killah, Crimeapple and Hus Kingpin, producer Big Ghost Ltd adds another gem to his catalogue in the form of this quality collaboration with Chicago’s D. Brash.
Posted in Downloads
Tagged Big Ghost Ltd, CHICAGHOST, D. Brash, Independent Hip-Hop, Underground Hip-Hop