Tag Archives: Extra Science

52 Best Albums & EPs Of 2012 (Part Three) – Apollo Brown & Guilty Simpson / M9 / Showbiz & AG etc.

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”).

dice game cover

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.

lost in new york cover

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”.

prose habit cover

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.

fraction cover

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.

union cover

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.

casual rawls cover

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.

magna carta cover

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.

gensu dean cover

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.

heavy links cover

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.

Showbiz & AG cover

Ryan Proctor

Part Four coming soon – check Part One and Part Two.

Album Review – Fraction & Fresh Kils

Fraction & Fresh Kils

“Extra Science”

(Fraction.BandCamp.Com)

Canada has long been a hotbed of quality Hip-Hop talent. From the days of Maestro Fresh Wes to more recent exports such as Eternia and Jeff Spec, the home of maple syrup has consistently proven its rap artists can produce music that can easily compete on the global stage. That said, this collaborative effort from veteran Kitchener, Ontario emcee Fraction and JUNO-nominated Toronto-based producer Fresh Kils is another fine example of Canadian Hip-Hop that should sit comfortably within the country’s already impressive back-catalogue of beats and rhymes.

With this set born out of a chance encounter at a Beat Lounge event in Toronto, the duo display the kind of chemistry throughout “Extra Science” that would lead an uninformed listener to think they’d been working together for years. Fraction and Fresh Kils might not be re-inventing the wheel here, but there’s an organic energy to this album that elevates it far beyond the status of being simply just another underground Hip-Hop release.

The dope opening title track sets high musical standards for the remainder of the project, as Fraction weaves together statements of lyrical supremacy, leftfield metaphors and spiritual thoughts, with the jazzy bop of  Fresh Kils’ top-notch production and a deft Poor Righteous Teachers vocal scratch providing the perfect backdrop for the emcee’s authoritative delivery.

“Another One Lost” is a menacing, pounding track telling the gritty, tragic tale of an abused child who is set on a path of self-destruction, whilst the heavy bass and manipulated piano sample heard on the subtle first single “The Balance” finds Fraction refusing to be sucked into a state of complacency by the pressures of daily life, choosing instead to “keep it movin’ like the glaciers be”.

Another immediate stand-out here is the life-affirming “Hold On” which features Specks, Justis and Mantis “building for the future” accompanied by a stunningly soulful hook and dreamy, Dilla-esque production. Changing the mood completely, however, is “That’s A Rap” which is a dramatic sonic car-chase of a track. Fraction is joined by fellow lyricist Mister E, with the pair stirring up a whirlwind of wordplay over Kils’ high-octane boom-bap that results in a breathtaking display of Hip-Hop mastery.

Closing the album is the stirring “All For The Unseen”, which finds Fraction taking a thoughtful look at the concept of religion and how it impacts everything from political decisions to the way people judge one another in daily life (“I believe what you believe is what creates further division…”).

A polished, well-crafted album, “Extra Science” stands head-and-shoulders above so many other Hip-Hop releases currently vying for your attention. Clearly thinking far beyond the here-and-now of today’s fast-moving online world, Fraction and Fresh Kils have put their hearts and minds into music that is sure to still resonate with listeners for years to come.

Ryan Proctor

Fraction & Fresh Kils ft. Mister E – “That’s A Rap” (Fraction.BandCamp.Com / 2012)