Heavy Links member and talented deejay Donnie Propa celebrates the catalogue of NYC’s Rawkus Records with this extensive mixtape project, featuring over sixty underground favourites from the likes of Mos Def, Sir Menelik and L-Fudge that were released via the label that helped define Hip-Hop’s mid-to-late 90s independent era.
Having already dropped some ill mixtapes in recent years paying homage to the likes of Masta Ace, Pete Rock and Dilla, Heavy Links member Donnie Propa delivers a well-executed tribute to the mighty Diggin’ In The Crates crew via UK-based label Village Live.
Stalwarts of the UK Hip-Hop scene Chrome (of Def Tex fame) and Donnie Propa (Heavy Links) pay tribute to Brooklyn’s mighty Jeru The Damaja with this dope collection of “classics and hidden gems” from the Gang Starr Foundation member – available to purchase on cassette via Village Live here.
Heavy Links member Donnie Propa follows-up last year’s original “Ace Tape” with another collection of career-spanning gems from Juice Crew legend Masta Ace released on limited edition cassette via Village Live.
Heavy Links member Donnie Propa pays homage to the production genius of the mighty Pete Rock with this project for Village Live Records, featuring classics from Das EFX, Run DMC, Mic Geronimo and many more.
A decade after J Dilla’s untimely passing, Heavy Links member Donnie Propa pays homage to the legendary Detroit producer with this speaker-shaking mix, featuring tracks from Mad Skillz, Common, A Tribe Called Quest and more.
In conjunction with the timeless talent that is Masta Ace, Donnie Propa of UK crew Heavy Links has put together this quality mix of cuts from the Juice Crew legend’s massive discography, largely staying away from obvious choices and instead shining the spotlight on some under-the-radar gems from the Brooklyn lyricist.
To celebrate ten years since the release of talented UK music man Evil Ed’s brilliant debut album “The Enthusiast”, Heavy Links member Donnie Propa gets busy on the ones-and-twos to compile a quality collection of the producer’s finest moments, including tracks featuring Jehst, Tommy Evans, Task Force and more.
If you’re a fan of UK Hip-Hop then you should hopefully be familiar with the name Heavy Links. Hailing from the county of Lincolnshire, the three-man crew consisting of El Tel The Dopeness, Habitat and Donnie Propa have swiftly established themselves as one of England’s premier rap groups, with their EP releases “The Essence” (2012) and “Heavyweight” (2013) introducing their uncompromising brand of homegrown true-school Hip-Hop in no uncertain terms.
Now stepping outside the comfort zone of his work as a member of the Links, talented wordsmith Habitat has joined forces with Nottingham-based producer DJ Severe to craft “Empire Building”, an album that is as grand and impressive as its title suggests.
Clearly an emcee who enjoys being creative with words, Habitat goes beyond simple boasts and claims of microphone dominance, with the lyricist packing plenty of vivid imagery into his rhymes throughout this release.
Whilst many artists are happy to pander to the shrinking attention span of today’s rap audience by delivering simple, shallow verses that can immediately be understood and deciphered on first listen, Habitat ensures his wordplay offers plenty of rewind potential. Not in a way that means his efforts will go over the heads of his listeners, but it’s clear that each line heard here has been carefully thought about by someone with a genuine love for the art of rap.
Case in point, the opening “Valhalla Rhyming”, which blends historic references and larger-than-life metaphors with stirring production, as Habitat promises to “spin the planet” on his finger amidst Severe’s pounding beats, chopped strings and deft cuts.
“Lost Technology” is a soulful-but-stern dart aimed directly at the competition, with the Heavy Links member promising to “take it back to golden times”, as he questions the motives of some artists within the UK scene and scoffs at those “giving life advice but living at their sister’s flat” whilst flexing an engaging multi-syllable flow that propels the track along at an energetic pace.
Speaking of energy, the top-notch posse cut “Polyrythmic” finds Habitat passing the mic to Granville Sessions’ Mnsr Frites, Archetype, Heavy Links own El Tel and veteran UK Hip-Hop renaissance man Chrome of Def Tex fame. Over relentlessly funky production from Severe, the five emcees each attempt to up the lyrical ante in the spirit of friendly competition, with nobody wanting to be singled out for not bringing the best pages of their rhyme pads to the studio. This particular cut also serves as a potent reminder of just how much talent there is lurking within the subterranean world of the British rap scene.
The mellow “Set Em Free” lets us into Habitat’s personal space, as he details his decade-long journey to perfect his craft, whilst the anthemic production of the title track conjures up images of the forthright emcee rhyming in the middle of an ancient amphitheatre, surrounded by a chanting crowd as he hammers home verbal blows to all challengers, accompanied by a well-placed Channel Live vocal sample.
A succinct, striking project, this album showcases a strong musical chemistry between Habitat and Severe which bodes well for possible future collaborations.
In today’s world of disposable releases, it’s clear that “Empire Building” is more than just a title, it’s a reference to Habitat’s determination to leave a mark in the UK Hip-Hop history books, with music that will stand the test time and still get heads nodding when rediscovered and dusted-off in years to come.
Follow Habitat on Twitter – @HabitatHL
Habitat & DJ Severe – “Valhalla Rhyming” (BoomBapPro.Com / 2014)
Donnie Propa of UK crew Heavy Links has put together a monster of a mix-tape in conjunction with Dephect Clothing featuring a long list of British emcees such as Verb T, Juga-Naut and Efeks rhyming over classic DJ Premier instrumentals – download here.
Donnie Propa of the UK’s Heavy Links crew has joined forces with Planet Rock Graphics to drop this head-nodding mixtape of 90s favourites featuring the likes of Nas, Big L, Lord Finesse and many other East Coast icons – download here.
Apollo Brown & Guilty Simpson – “Dice Game” (Mello Music Group) – This Motown duo definitely weren’t taking a gamble when they jumped in the studio together to record this sureshot collection of rugged bangers. With Simpson injecting his rhymes with a slightly more personal feel than on previous material, Brown ensured his beats matched the tone of the Detroit emcee’s verses perfectly, whether highlighting their hometown (“Reputation”) or pondering the future (“How Will I Go”).
Grand Papa Tra – “Lost In New York” (GrandPapaTra.BandCamp.Com) – Not one for adhering to today’s digital norm of emailing tracks and verses back and forth to complete a project, Swiss producer Tra wanted a more authentic recording experience, so made the trip to NYC to put together this collection of East Coast-influenced cuts with the likes of Sadat X, Mic Geronimo and Royal Flush.
Prose – “Back In The Habit” (Boom Bap Professionals) – Following-up two impressive albums, “Force Of Habit” (2010) and “The Dark Side Of The Boom” (2011), UK emcee / producer partnership Efeks and Steady Rock remained true to their underground roots on this quality EP which featured the witty old-school tribute “The Class Of ’94”.
Fraction & Fresh Kils – “Extra Science” (Math Music Productions) – This album could easily never have happened considering it was a chance encounter at a Toronto Hip-Hop event that led to this Canadian duo teaming-up for this release. Thankfully, the rap gods were obviously smiling on that fateful day, which in turn led to underground fans being blessed with an accomplished, polished display of musical brilliance steeped in soulful, jazzy vibes and masterful lyricism.
Union – “Analogtronics” (Fat Beats) – A mind-bending mix of 80s-style synths, Dilla-influenced beats and space-age imagery, Paris-based producers OJ and Gold delivered a truly unique sonic experience with this collection of intergalactic funk, taking listeners on an epic musical journey amongst the stars with the likes of Talib Kweli, MF Doom and Roc Marciano on-hand to lyrically moonwalk across their sci-fly soundscapes.
Casual & J Rawls – “Respect Game Or Expect Flames” (Nature Sounds) – An unexpected but welcome collaboration, the cocky, Oakland drawl of Hiero’s Casual was the perfect fit for veteran Ohio-based producer Rawls’ well-crafted beats on this thoroughly entertaining album.
M9 – “Magna Carta” (M9Ether.BandCamp.Com) – Easily one of the most gifted lyricists in the present-day rap game, London’s Melanin 9 filled his heavily-anticpated “Magna Carta” project with intricately woven verses packed with gritty street knowledge, political opinion and social commentary. Edutainment, indeed.
Gensu Dean – “Lo-Fi Fingahz” (Mello Music Group) – Texas-based producer Dean celebrated his love of his trusty SP 1200 sampler by using it to craft a quality selection of true-school neck-snappers on this album which featured the likes of Brand Nubian, Large Professor and Count Bass D.
Heavy Links – “The Essence” (HeavyLinks.BandCamp.Com) – Midlands, UK trio Habitat, El Tel and Donnie Propa released their third EP project which, following a successful appearance at September’s Boom Bap Hip-Hop Festival, raised the crew’s profile and widened the audience for their brand of good ol’ fashioned homegrown rap.
Showbiz & AG – “Mugshot Music: Preloaded” (DITC Records) – Released as a free warm-up for “Mugshot Music” proper, this might not have been considered an official album by the Bronx duo, but it was definitely much more than just a mixtape. Featuring some of Show’s best production in recent times and typically self-assured bars from Andre The Giant, “Preloaded” probably wouldn’t have left fans unsatisfied even if it had been the pair’s only 2012 release.
As the countdown continues to next weekend’s UK Hip-Hop Boom Bap Festival in Peterborough, Heavy Links member Donnie Propa has put together an official mixtape for the event featuring tracks from the likes of Phi Life Cypher, Mystro, Kyza and more – check it here.
UK crew Heavy Links have a new quality true-school-flavoured EP on deck which is available on limited edition vinyl for all you collectors out there or as a free download for digital b-boys worldwide – peep “The Essence” here.
Whilst the rap world patiently awaits the Ghostface / Doom collabo album, the UK’s Donnie Propa drops this mixtape featuring a nice selection of bangers from the Killah and the Villain – download here.