Tag Archives: Blacastan

New Joint – Watson & Holmes

Watson & Holmes – “23 x 1” (@Stu_Bangas / 2020)

Massachusetts duo Stu Bangas and Blacastan attempt to solve another raw rap mystery on their forthcoming third collabo album “The Case Of The BPM Killer”.

New Joint – Stu Bangas / Blacastan / Recognize Ali

Stu Bangas ft. Blacastan & Recognize Ali – “Gideon” (Stu_Bangas / 2020)

Hard-hitting collaboration from the Boston producer’s new “Beats And Blood” EP.

New Joint – Stu Bangas / Blacastan

Stu Bangas ft. Blacastan – “Fine Wine” (BrutalMusic.BandCamp.Com / 2019)

Boston producer Stu Bangas teams-up with Connecticut’s always impressive Blacastan for some Watson & Holmes action off his recent “Discernment” release.

New Joint – Jaysaun / Blacastan / Reef The Lost Cauze

Jaysaun ft. Blacastan & Reef The Lost Cauze – “Boston, CT, Philly” (@5thAndUnion / 2018)

The members of Special Teamz, Demigodz and Army Of The Pharaohs each get busy on this Dave Gunckel-produced cut of Jaysaun’s “Kill Ya Boss” project.

New Joint – SmooVth & Blacastan

judge cover

SmooVth & Blacastan ft. DJ 7L – “Don’t Judge Me” (BrutalMusic.BandCamp.Com / 2018)

Strong Island meets Connecticut on this Stu Bangas-produced neck-snapper.

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2017 (Part Five) – Ray Vendetta & Giallo Point / Defari / Conway etc.

Check Part One, Part Two, Part Three & Part Four.

Ray Vendetta & Giallo Point – “Sins Of The Son” (PrestigiousRecordings1.BandCamp.Com) – Triple Darkness member Vendetta called on the talents of prolific producer Giallo Point for this epic display of hardcore brilliance, with the London-based lyricist dropping vivid, street-smart rhymes over expertly-crafted loops and beats perfectly suited to the UK emcee’s forthright delivery.

vendetta cover

Showbiz & A.G. – “Take It Back” (DITCEnt.Com) – One of Hip-Hop’s greatest musical partnerships, Bronx duo Show & A.G. dropped this stellar effort some twenty-five years after their first releases appeared on record store shelves. Having lost none of his dusty-fingered touch, Showbiz delivered plenty of that trademark DITC sound here, with Andre The Giant flowing effortlessly throughout.

showbiz cover

Jazz Spastiks & Mellosoulblack – “Midnight Method” (JazzSpastiks.BandCamp.Com) – UK production duo the Jazz Spastiks provided Stateside crew Mellosoulblack with a heavy dose of their full-bodied production sound on this quality collaborative album. Thumping beats, random samples and crafty cuts were blended with witty, freestyle-flavoured rhymes here, resulting in an upbeat, feel-good true-school listening experience.

midnight cover

Rapsody – “Laila’s Wisdom” (Jamla Records / Roc Nation) – 2017 was a big year for North Carolina’s Rapsody, culminating in a Grammy nomination for this deserving body of work. Truth be told, the talented artist didn’t do anything different here than she’s already been doing since debuting her solo material in 2011, incorporating personal experiences, fierce lyricism and a good ear for strong production into one undeniable package. The increased amount of attention Rapsody received this time around, however, was proof that talent and hard-work can get you to where you want to be.

rapsody cover

Kamanchi Sly – “Slycriminality” / “Ultimate BBoy 92” (KamanchiSly.Com) – Hijack legend K Sly dropped two albums in 2017 and, as much as I tried, I really couldn’t decide which was the better of the two, so I’m giving props to both projects here. A pioneer of the 80s UK Hip-Hop scene, the South London lyricist proved throughout both these self-produced releases that his dedication to microphone dominance hasn’t faded over the years at all. Mixing a true love of Hip-Hop culture with a passion for crushing the competition and some wordly wisdom, Kamanchi Sly injected his 2017 output with the energy of a new artist and the experience of a battle-hardened veteran. Stockwell serves again!

kamanchi sly cover


Estee Nack & Friends – “#MiniMansionDust Vol.2” (EsteeNack.BandCamp.Com) – Tragic Allies member Estee Nack dropped science alongside Daniel Son, al.divino and Mr. Rose on this solid collection of fly underground jewels, with the Massachusetts mic fiend’s gritty delivery and righteous street knowledge hitting the target as always.

estee cover

Flashius Clayton & Lisaan’dro – “Money Makin Music” (FlashiusClayton.BandCamp.Com) – The end result of a weekly series of free tracks dropped between September and November, this project effectively showcased the sharp rhyme skills of Cali’s Flashius Clayton and NY’s Lisaan’dro, two distinctly different emcees with a shared passion for the craft of lyricism. Featuring production from Farma Beats, The Historian and Spectacular Diagnostics, “Money Makin Music” marked both these talented individuals as ones to watch in 2018 and beyond.

flashius cover

Blacastan & Stu Bangas – “The Uncanny Adventures Of Watson & Holmes” (BrickRecords.Com) – The sequel to their 2014 Watson & Holmes project, this album was another collection of raw beats and rhymes from the Connecticut emcee and Boston producer that definitely wasn’t for the faint-hearted. Slashing through your speakers with razor-sharp precision, the chemistry shared between the pair was apparent once again here, with all the elements of a true musical partnership on display.

watson cover

Jay-Z – “4:44” (RocNation.Com) – Jay-Z has always been a divisive figure in Hip-Hop, sparking passionate debates between those who see him as a calculating commercial rapper and others who consider him one of the greatest artists of all-time. To be fair, both camps have valid points, as Hov’s career has contained moments of sonic brilliance and disappointment. This album, however, was his best release in a decade, with the nearly fifty-year-old artist talking about topics a nearly fifty-year-old artist in Jay’s position should be addressing in their music – family, society, personal failures, successes – displaying a different side to the Brooklyn icon than we’d heard and seen before.

jay-z cover

Ankhlejohn – “The Red Room” (Shaap Records / FxckRxp.Com) – The raspy-voiced Washington D.C. wordsmith dropped this cohesive collection of late-night street-hop mixing East Coast boom-bap sensibilities with a no-holds-barred lyrical approach, resulting in a project that was something of an acquired taste but that offered a unique listening experience for those who embraced “The Red Room” in all of its unhinged glory.

red room cover

Spnda & Grubby Pawz – “Steel Sharpens Steel” (CityYardMusic.BandCamp.Com) – On point like a knife blade, this Boston duo’s album was an effective lesson in how to craft a project that has the ability to really draw the listener in, with Spnda’s liquid swordplay meshing perfectly with producer Pawz’ loop-based mellow madness, resulting in an album that was both atmospheric and captivating with maximum replay value.

steel cover

RSXGLD – “RSXGLD” (RSXGLD.BandCamp.Com) – This album found veteran Michigan representatives RoSpit and 14KT successfully pushing their respective creative boundaries on each track, giving “RSXGLD” a sound that was soulful, hardcore and experimental in equal measures. Ambitious, personal, speaker-rattling Hip-Hop.

rsx cover

Jehst – “Billy Green Is Dead” (YNRProductions.BandCamp.Com) – Named after a socially-aware 1972 Gil-Scott Heron track, UK producer-on-the-mic Jehst’s first album in six years was a deep musical experience to fully immerse yourself in, offering commentary on today’s modern world which, at times, made for unsettling and haunting listening. A truly brilliant work of art.

jehst cover

Recognize Ali & Giallo Point – “Back 2 Mecca” (RecognizeAli.BandCamp.Com) – The last of three albums to be released in 2017 by Greenfield Music’s talented Recognize Ali, this project paid tribute to the culture of Hip-Hop and was powered by the typically impressive production of the UK’s Giallo Point, with the likes of Estee Nack, Daniel Son and PhybaOptikz also contributing their skills to this raw collection of subterranean gems.

back 2 mecca cover

Life MC & DJ Nappa – “Audio Bliss” (LifeMC.BandCamp.Com) – One of UK Hip-Hop’s most distinctive voices, Life MC touched on a variety of topics throughout this succinct seven-track EP, with fellow Phi-Life Cypher member Nappa pulling out some top-drawer production to match the Luton lyricist’s passionate verses.

life mc cover

Ash The Author & Krang – “Two Man Band” (BoomBapPro.Com) – Lively, spontaneous vibes from the UK duo, with Ash’s cleverly cocky rhymes sitting nicely over the jazz-influenced production of Krang, a combination which added another worthy release to the Boom Bap Professionals label catalogue.

ash cover

Defari – “Rare Poise” (Fat Beats) – Part of the mid-90s West Coast independent scene and a Likwit Crew affiliate, Defari is no stranger to releasing quality music. Calling on the production skills of Evidence to assist in crafting his first album in eleven years, the Cali emcee proved that he hadn’t missed a beat with this self-assured set which also featured appearances from longstanding Left Coast wordsmiths Rakaa Iriscience, Krondon and Phil Tha Agony.

defari cover

Verb T & Pitch 92 – “Good Evening” (HighFocus.BandCamp.Com) – Supported by the brilliant production of Mouse Outfit music man Pitch 92, the mighty Verb T dropped an engaging, down-to-earth mix of life observations, dry wit and personal reflection, proving once again why his stature as UK Hip-Hop royalty is so well-deserved.

good evening cover

Codenine – “IX” (Codenine.BandCamp.Com) – Backed by the sublime, minimalist soundscapes of producers Kas and Motif Alumni, Tragic Allies member Codenine made sure that not a moment of his time on the mic was wasted here, packing his verses with vivid imagery and a near-cinematic attention to detail that put him head-and-shoulders above much of his competition.

codenine cover

Conway – “G.O.A.T.” (WhoIsConway.Com) – Buffalo’s master of murderous mood music returned at the end of the year with a fresh batch of  cold-hearted crime rhymes and dark Daringer production, closing off what had been an eventful twelve months for the Griselda emcee and setting high expectations for what 2018 may bring via Conway’s signing to Eminem’s Shady Records.

conway cover

New Joint – Blacastan & Stu Bangas / Esoteric

Blacastan & Stu Bangas ft. Esoteric – “Blac-O-Teric” (@BrickRecords96 / 2017)

More rawness from the album “The Uncanny Adventures Of Watson & Holmes”.

New Joint – Tone Spliff / Blacastan / Illa Ghee

Tone Spliff ft. lla Ghee & Blacastan – “What’s In The Future” (ToneSpliff.BandCamp.Com / 2017)

Animated visuals and heavy-duty boom-bap from the Los Angeles-based producer’s 2016 album “Pull No Punches”.

New Joint – Blacastan & Stu Bangas

watson cover

Blacastan & Stu Bangas ft. Ill Bill & DJ 7L – “Delete” (@BrickRecords96 / 2017)

Raw, hardcore beats and rhymes from the duo’s new album “The Uncanny Adventures Of Watson & Holmes”.

New Joint – Blacastan & Stu Bangas

Blacastan & Stu Bangas – “Lucifer’s Sickle” (@BrickRecords96 / 2017)

Raw, gritty beats and rhymes from the emcee / producer duo’s forthcoming album “The Uncanny Adventures Of Watson & Holmes” featuring Apathy, Esoteric, Tragedy Khadafi and more.

New Joint – Blacastan & Stu Bangas / Apathy

Blacastan & Stu Bangas ft. Apathy – “Summa Cum Laude” (@BrickRecords96 / 2017)

Connecticut’s ever-impressive Blacastan once again teams-up with producer Stu Bangas for their second collabo album “The Uncanny Adventures Of Watson & Holmes”, featuring Esoteric, Tragedy Khadafi, Ill Bill and more.

New Joint – Mr. Green / Blacastan

Mr. Green ft. Blacastan – “Power” (@GreenHipHop / 2016)

Taken from the forthcoming Raw Poetix Records compilation “Global Connection Vol. 2” featuring PaceWon, Planet Asia, Kool G. Rap and more.

New Joint – Block McCloud / Blacastan / Krumbsnatcha

Block McCloud ft. Blacastan & Krumbsnatcha – “The Whistler” / “The Obelisk” (@BlockMcCloud / 2016)

Back-to-back bangers taken from the East Coast emcee’s forthcoming album “The Book Of Ishmael”.

Album Review – Ras Beats

ras beats cover

Ras Beats

“Control Your Own”

(Worldwyde Recordings)

I’ve said it before in reviews and I’ll say it again here; producer-based albums can often be hit-and-miss affairs. Talented beat wizards can sometimes be let down by their choice of guest artists, whilst on the flipside, competent producers can find themselves overshadowed by their chosen collaborators, with their soundscapes not necessarily strong enough in musical personality to give an album the solid sonic backbone and direction it needs to stand above the competition. Either way, the end result can be a disjointed collection of tracks which feels like an uneven compilation, rather than a cohesive body of work.

In the case of “Control Your Own” from Ras Beats, the NY-based producer has avoided both of the above mentioned pitfalls. The list of featured artists on the project is impressive, ranging from golden-era legends to more recent rhyme animals, whilst Ras ensures his brand of sample-heavy production holds the album together with a sense of both confidence and individuality.

Having already gained attention as a lead single, the Roc Marciano-assisted “Wit No Pressure” sets things off as the opening track here, with the Strong Island representative dropping typically vivid verses over punchy drums and atmospheric samples, lacing his smooth-but-deadly rhymes with references to everyone from Hugh Hefner and Malcolm X to 50 Cent.

The short-but-effective “Shoebox” finds JBiz reminiscing on when he used to  “want to be the next Chi-Ali” as he sifts through back-in-the-day memories of boom-boxes, listening to Tribe and watching Video Music Box, whilst the crashing drums and emotive vocal sample of the previously-released “Let It Be” provide the perfect backdrop for Brooklyn veteran Masta Ace to demonstrate that true skills really are timeless (“And this a different year, This ain’t ’88, I’m not defined by a time, That’s what made me great…”).

The hypnotic O.C. / Elzhi collabo “Knowledge Of Self” is definitely a standout, with the pair wrapping poignant life observations around soothing strings and a well-placed Rakim vocal snippet, displaying a natural chemistry that ensures the cut has an organic feel to it, rather than simply sounding like two seemingly unconnected emcees being pushed together for the sake of trying to make a tracklist more interesting.

Ras also pays homage to the galaxy of Queens on an instrumental effort named after his home borough, mixing the drama of a 70s blaxploitation soundtrack with a nod to the East Coast flavour of the 90s, whilst one of the game’s most recognisable voices Sadat X embraces his OG status on “Survive” (also previously-released), schooling today’s new generation of rappers from a place of genuine experience  over dusty beats and melodic samples.

Closing the album is the melancholy “God Bless”, which features JBiz and DITC’s A.G. digging deep to deliver heartfelt rhymes about personal loss, with the musical partner of Showbiz really rising to the challenge via an emotionally-charged verse about his late father (“Your face can’t be replaced by time, You’ll forever be branded on my mind, I shed a tear with the ink pen, So I’ma make him proud while I’m here, That’s what I’m thinkin’…).

Further appearances from the likes of Blacastan, Rasheed Chappell and Sureshot La Rock add even more verbal weight to the album.

Overall, “Control Your Own” is a strong outing from Ras Beats, a gifted producer who clearly wants to add on to the legacy of traditional New York boom-bap rather than simply trying to recreate what has come before him.

“Control Your Own” drops here on July 19th.

Ryan Proctor

New Joint – Mr. Lif / Blacastan

lif cover

Mr. Lif ft. Blacastan – “Whizdom” (@TheRealMrLif / 2016)

The Boston vet returns with a typically mind-expanding display of lyricism on this Edan-produced cut off his forthcoming album “Don’t Look Down”.

New Joint – Blak Madeen / Blacastan

Blak Madeen ft. Blacastan – “Mic Divine” (@Blak_Madeen / 2016)

Taken from the Boston duo’s recently-released “Supreme Aftermath” project.

New Joint – Nems / Spit Gemz / Shabaam Sahdeeq etc.

nems pic

Nems ft. Spit Gemz, Blacastan, CF, Shabaam Sahdeeq & Nutso – “The Genesis” (@Nems_FYL / 2015)

Vicious posse cut from the Coney Island emcee’s “Planet Of The Apes: Water” EP, with each featured lyricist displaying raw skills over timeless samples from the “Wild Style” soundtrack.

New Joint – Apathy / Locksmith / Blacastan

Apathy – “Block Island Sound” ft. Locksmith / “The Pendulum Swings” ft. Blacastan (@ApathyDGZ / 2015)

Back-to-back visuals from the Demigodz / AOTP member’s recent EP “Weekend At The Cape”.

New Joint – Nutso / General Steele / Blacastan

Nutso ft. General Steele & Blacastan – “Str8 Talk” (@NutsoPPM / 2015)

Lace up your Timberlands and pull on your hoodies for this heavy dose of raw East Coast flavour off the Queens emcee’s “Divided Soul” EP.

New Joint – ChumZilla / Blacastan

ChumZilla ft. Blacastan – “Bring Apocalypse” (@ChumZilla / 2014)

Hardcore “neck-snap, hunchback rap” from the Connecticut producer’s forthcoming album “The Earth Man’s Curse” featuring Apathy, Benn Grim, Has-Lo and more.