Tag Archives: Control Your Own

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2016 (Part Two) – Vinnie Paz / REKS / Ras Beats etc.

Check Part One here.

LEX – “Necessary” (LEXNYRE.BandCamp.Com) – This project from Queens, NY wordsmith LEX was an album rooted in the proud heritage of true-school Rotten Apple rap which effectively showcased the talented emcee’s dedication to both his craft and the culture of Hip-Hop.

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Ray Vendetta  & Calvert – “Calculated Vendettaz” (RayOfLight.BandCamp.Com) – Triple Darkness member Ray Vendetta joined forces with talented London-based producer Calvert for this brilliantly-executed example of intelligent, hardcore Hip-Hop. Packed with potent lyricism that ranged from the gritty to the humorous to the inspirational, “Calculated Vendettaz” captured the natural chemistry between Ray’s accomplished wordplay and Calvert’s sample-based beats, with features from UK heavyweights such as Iron Braydz, Tesla’s Ghost and Skriblah DanGogh.

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ChrisJay – “The Day She Ran Away” (ChrisJayOnline.BandCamp.Com) – Canada’s ChrisJay delivered personal, heartfelt rhymes with a captivating blend of strength and vulnerability on this thoroughly engaging  EP produced by Die-Rek and Cream Of Beats.

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Vinnie Paz – “The Cornerstone Of The Corner Store” (Enemy Soil) – The third solo album from Jedi Mind Tricks front-man Vinnie Paz offered more gritty half-righteous, half-foul anthems from the Philly emcee,  with production supplied by the likes of Buckwild, C-Lance and Psycho Les providing the project with an uncompromisingly hardcore sonic backbone.

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Cryptic One – “The World According To…” (CrypticOne.BandCamp.Com) – The former Atoms Family member showcased his razor-sharp wordplay and worldly wit over a dope selection of self-produced beats on this succinct effort.

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Killer Ben & Twiz The Beat Pro – “Invincible Ben” (DrumsetMusicWorks.BandCamp.Com) – This project from Durag Dynasty’s Killer Ben was one of the finest examples of quality lyricism you were likely to hear this year, as the West Coast-based wordsmith pounded Twiz’s impressive production with a non-stop barrage of high-velocity verbals.

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Shay D – “A Figure Of Speech” (ShayD.BandCamp.Com) – Inbetween co-hosting a radio show on London’s Itch FM, running youth workshops and organizing live events, UK emcee Shay D found time to release this well-crafted project, powerfully combining social commentary, personal experience and artistic passion with striking results.

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Common – “Black America Again” (Def Jam / ARTium) – Sounding determined, defiant and, perhaps most importantly, more focussed creatively than he has done in recent years, Chicago vet Common dropped this timely album inspired by the racial, political and social turmoil which dominated the US throughout 2016. Striking a balance between realism and optimism, this was music with a message which proved in no uncertain terms that the Windy City emcee still loves H.E.R.

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REKS – “The Greatest X” (Brick Records) – With nothing on this epic 35-track project that could honestly be described as “throwaway”, Massachusetts microphone fiend REKS largely succeeded in conquering the double-album format which even icons such as 2Pac and Biggie struggled with. An endless stream of passionately-delivered verses paired with well-chosen production (Large Professor, Statik Selektah, Nottz etc) ensured the listener’s attention was maintained at all times. Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme, indeed.

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OC From NC – “The Second Renaissance” (OCFromNC.BandCamp.Com) – Following-up 2015’s impressive “Higher Learning” project, North Carolina’s OC once again called on the services of production partner B Squared for “The Second Renaissance”, a quality combination of intelligent lyricism and soul-drenched boom-bap.

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Ras Beats – “Control Your Own” (Worldwyde Recordings) – Featuring appearances from the likes of A.G., Roc Marciano and Sadat X, this project from NYC’s Ras Beats  was a strong outing from a gifted producer who clearly wanted to add on to the legacy of traditional New York boom-bap rather than simply try to recreate what had come before him.

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Soundsci – “Walk The Earth” (Global Expo) – The mighty Soundsci crew went global on their third full-length release, with the transatlantic troop once again delivering a fine selection of funky, intelligent Hip-Hop grounded in a genuine shared desire to help push the culture forward to a better place.

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Beneficence – “Basement Chemistry” (Ill Adrenaline Records) – New Jersey representative and Ill Adrenaline co-founder Beneficence took it back to the golden-era with this solid boom-bap-driven album featuring appearances and production from the likes of Masta Ace, Chubb Rock, Da Beatminerz and more.

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Ron Jon Bovi – “Neaux Mursi” (Elevation Nation) – Satisfying the appetite of lyric lovers everywhere across Planet Rock, this Unjust-produced collabo album from Hieroglyphics member Casual and Detroit’s Phat Kat found the pair sharing a chemistry that suggested the two lyricists had been rhyming together for years instead of merely the time it took to put this release together.

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Loopwhole Beats – “Newyorkism II” (LoopwholeBeats.BandCamp.Com) – Atmospheric, 90s-influenced boom-bap from the NY producer featuring appearances from Brainsick Mob, Roc Marciano and Eastkoast.

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The Cornel West Theory – “The T.A.B.L.E.” (TheCornelWestTheory.BandCamp.Com) – The Washington D.C. crew quickly followed-up their impressive 2015 opus “Coming From The Bottom” with an equally rewarding and intense listening experience in the form of “The T.A.B.L.E.”. Powered by a revolutionary spirit and anti-establishment attitude, this album went against the grain both sonically and lyrically, with the end product sounding all the better for it.

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Libretto – “Gangsta Jazz Volume Two” (Liquid Beat) – As its title suggested, this long-player from Liquid Beat Records found the Watts, Los Angeles-raised Libretto mixing street-related rhymes with melodic loops, resulting in a project which boasted a throwback feel without getting lost in nostalgia.

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King Draft – “Live Forever” (TheKingdomMusic.BandCamp.Com) – Effortlessly blending classic influences with contemporary flavours, North Carolina-based emcee King Draft delivered clever wordplay and verses of substance over the accomplished production of fellow Kingdom member Jerm Scorsese throughout this solo project.

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Mr. Kinetik – “The Colors” (MrKinetik.BandCamp.Com) – Indianapolis-based artist Mr. Kinetik dropped dusty jazz vibes and intricate rhymes on this short-yet-impressive self-produced EP.

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DSOTM – “The Echo Chamber” (DSOTM.BandCamp.Com) – Menace Mendoza, FlowTecs, Joey Menza and the rest of seven-man crew Dark Side Of The Moon spat raw rhymes over atmospheric production from the likes of Beat Butcha and Ringz Ov Saturn on this uncompromisingly hardcore UK opus.

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Part Three coming soon.

 

New Joint – Ras Beats

Ras Beats – “Queens” (@RasBeats / 2016)

The talented NY producer pays homage to his Q.U. home borough with this instrumental cut off his “Control Your Own” album.

 

New Joint – Ras Beats / A.G. / JBiz

Ras Beats ft. A.G. & JBiz – “God Bless” (@RasBeats / 2016)

Moving, heartfelt rhymes and soul-stirring soundscapes from the NY-based producer’s recent album “Control Your Own”.

New Joint – Ras Beats / Roc Marciano

Ras Beats ft. Roc Marciano – “Wit No Pressure” (@RasBeats / 2016)

Taken from the NY producer’s new album “Control Your Own”.

Album Review – Ras Beats

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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