Body Bag Ben & J Scienide – “Stepping Stone” (@FatBeats / 2022)
Henney Ruxpin-directed video from the 2021 Body Bag Ben / J Scienide album “Enough To Plague A Saint”.
Body Bag Ben & J Scienide – “Stepping Stone” (@FatBeats / 2022)
Henney Ruxpin-directed video from the 2021 Body Bag Ben / J Scienide album “Enough To Plague A Saint”.
Masta Ace & Marco Polo ft. Pav Bundy – “Sunken Place – Remix” (@FatBeats / 2019)
This compelling, socially-aware cut is given a smooth, piano-laced reworking for the Deluxe Edition re-release of Ace and Polo’s brilliant 2018 album “A Breukelen Story”.
Masta Ace & Marco Polo – “Get Shot” (@MastaAce / @MarcoPoloBeats / 2019)
Juice Crew legend Masta Ace and Canadian producer Marco Polo have proven their shared creative chemistry time and time again over the years, with this latest drum-heavy example being lifted from their brilliant 2018 album “‘A Breukelen Story”.
The Legion – “Three The Bronx Way” (FatBeats.Com / 2019)
NYC’s “boom-bap warlords” Chucky Smash, Diceman and Molecules stomp all over the title track of their recent album with true-school BX attitude.
The Legion – “Drop The Beat” (@FatBeats / 2019)
The Rotten Apple trio take to the streets of New York in these Pritt Kalsi-directed visuals from their new album “Three The Bronx Way”.
Jones Brothers – “Roughs With The Smooth” (FlukebeatMusic.BandCamp.Com) – UK emcees Joker Starr and AnyWay Tha God came with that “street knowledge and supreme wisdom” on this dope collaborative project. Striving to protect Hip-Hop from culture vultures, whilst annihilating anyone claiming to be lyrical competition in the process, the pair stood tall, backed by the loose, funky production of Manchester’s El Ay.
Fly Anakin & Koncept Jack$on – “Chapel Drive” (FxckRxp.BandCamp.Com) – Representing Richmond, Virginia to the fullest, Anakin and Jackson involved every member of their Mutant Academy camp on this well-crafted album. Spontaneous rhymes and straight-out-the-basement beats were combined here to memorable effect, with “Chapel Drive” boasting a fluid, natural vibe that ensured it was high in replay value.
Son Of Sam – “Cinder Hill” (SonOfSamMusic.BandCamp.Com) – The idea of a live band playing Hip-Hop is nothing new, just ask Stetsasonic, Brand New Heavies or The Roots. But whilst the concept may not raise the eyebrows it once did, the execution of said concept still takes a huge amount of skill. UK-based musical collective Son Of Sam rose to the challenge on their debut album, with the likes of J-Live, Large Professor and Prince Po all shining on the project’s lively, organic soundscapes.
True God – “Inception” (TrueGodImmortal.BandCamp.Com) – Reporting live and direct from inner-city Baltimore, the talented True God delivered vivid, emotionally-charged street-corner sermons with skill, insight and sensitivity throughout this project.
Roughneck Jihad – “The Wretched Of The Verse” (JihadTheRoughneckMC.BandCamp.Com) – Veteran West Coast emcee and Third Sight member Roughneck Jihad delivered a non-stop barrage of heavy-mental wordplay throughout this well-crafted collection of underground gems.
DJ Manipulator & Louie Gonz – “The Loops” (DJManipulatorLouiGonz.BandCamp.Com) – This Massachusetts producer / emcee duo dropped an accomplished project in the form of “The Loops”, an album packed with cocky, street-smart rhymes and dusty, stripped-down beats, with the pair displaying a musical chemistry that gave this release a vibe reminiscent of a lost 90s-era demo tape.
Dell-P – “4 Da Art” (Dell-P.BandCamp.Com) – Philly emcee Dell-P continued to build his reputation as one of the nicest lyricists to have emerged from the 215 in recent years with this release. A ‘total package’ wordsmith who sounded just as comfortable delivering heartfelt social commentary as he did spitting claims of microphone dominance, this Illadelph artist quite rightly demanded to be heard with “4 Da Art”.
Your Old Droog – “PACKS” (FatBeatsRecords.BandCamp.Com) – With the Nas comparisons well and truly behind him, NYC’s Droog stood as his own man throughout this sophomore effort, blending humour, street smarts and razor-sharp wit throughout his verses, backed by production from The Alchemist, El RTNC and 88 Keys.
Hus Kingpin & Big Ghost Ltd – “Cocaine Beach” (GourmetDeluxxx.BandCamp.Com) – Epic fly ish from the NY-raised Kingpin, with the likes of Milano Constantine, Vinnie Paz and Planet Asia all passing through to bless the impeccable production of Big Ghost Ltd, resulting in one of 2017’s ‘event’ albums which appeared to grab the attention of nearly all underground Hip-Hop heads upon its release.
Justo – “Black Ops” (Black Jewel Entertainment) – Brooklyn’s Justo picked some choice beats from D.I.T.C. legend Showbiz’s “Rare Breaks” series for this collection of traditional, lyrically-impressive Rotten Apple Hip-Hop.
Raekwon – “The Wild” (Ice H20 Records) – Almost twenty-five years since his debut as a member of Staten Island’s mighty Wu-Tang Clan, the Chef proved that his Shaolin sword was as sharp as ever with the release of this solid album. Full of cinematic verses and strong production, “The Wild” was a worthy addition to Raekwon’s discography, with only a couple of unnecessary guest-spots (Lil Wayne / G-Eazy) slowing the project’s momentum.
Tristate & Oh No – “3 Dimensional Prescriptions” (HieroglyphicsImperium.BandCamp.Com) – Backed by the eclectic, sample-driven beats of infamous crate-digger Oh No, Gold Chain Music’s Tristate remained consistently impressive throughout this album, with his razor-sharp microphone techniques effortlessly keeping the listener engaged at all times.
Ded Tebiase – “Landspeed” (VillageLive.BandCamp.Com) – Talented Bristol producer Ded Tebiase served up more of his drum-heavy, sample-based musical mastery on his latest album, featuring Da Flyy Hooligan, Ash The Author and Benaddict, with all proceeds from the release being donated to Pancreatic Cancer UK.
DoamPeace – “Sidetrack” (DoesBros.BandCamp.Com) – The NYC-based DXA crew member educated listeners with pure true-school science on this eight-track EP.
Big Toast & Ill Move Sporadic – “You Are Not Special” (StarchMusic.BandCamp.Com) – Tired of self-obsessed social media posts, shallow celebrity culture and rampant consumerism? This UK duo had the remedy for all of the above and then some with this sonic reality check. Toast’s blunt delivery and dry wit blended perfectly with Ill Move’s hefty beats, resulting in an album that was guaranteed to bring anyone with delusions of grandeur down to earth with a serious bump.
Tesla’s Ghost – “Stretch Lincolns” (TeslasGhost.BandCamp.Com) – Late in 2017, gruff-voiced London lyricist Tesla’s Ghost dropped the perfect soundtrack for the cold, dark wintery nights ahead with this brilliantly-crafted album. Full of ominous, minimalist soundscapes and vivid, uncompromising verses, “Stretch Lincolns” was a strong example of pure, uncut mood music.
El Camino – “El Camino” (Griselda Records) – The next chamber in the Griselda Records takeover came in the form of this self-titled EP from Buffalo’s El Camino; eight tracks of raw, gritty beats and rhymes, with the younger member of the GxFR camp being joined, of course, by Westside Gunn and Conway, plus the late, great Prodigy.
Big Twins & DJ Skizz – “Billy Ocean” (DJSkizz.BandCamp.Com) – The Infamous Mobb emcee dropped some typically direct Queensbridge dunn language over old-school R&B grooves on this rugged-but-smooth EP.
Figub Brazlevic – “4×4 Palestine Jeep Beats” (FigubBrazlevic.BandCamp.Com) – The nod factor was high on this quality collection of sample-based beats laced with live instrumentation from the German producer.
Soul King – “The Diaspora” (SoulKingSK.BandCamp.Com) – Likwit Crew affiliate Soul King represented the Cali underground to the fullest throughout “The Diaspora”, with the project also featuring Montage One, Phil The Agony, Born Allah and more blessing beats from DirtyDiggs, DJ Breeze and Default.
Part Four coming soon.
Posted in Album Reviews, East Coast Hip-Hop, German Hip-Hop, UK Hip-Hop, West Coast Hip-Hop
Tagged 4 Da Art, AnyWay Tha God, Big Ghost Ltd, Chapel Drive, Cinder Hill, Cocaine Beach, Dell-P, DJ Manipulator, Fat Beats, Flukebeat Music, Fly Anakin, Fxck Rxp, Gourmet Deluxxx, Hus Kingpin, Inception, Joker Starr, Jones Brothers, Justo, Koncept Jack$on, Louie Gonz, Packs, Roughneck Jihad, Roughs With The Smooth, Son Of Sam, The Loops, The Wretched Of The Verse, True God, Your Old Droog
2016. What a year. Political upheaval in the form of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as US president. The tragic loss of musical icons such as Prince and A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg. Continued economic and social unrest across the globe. Suffice to say, 2016 will no doubt be looked back on in years to come as a definite time of change, with not much of that change necessarily being for the better.
The world of music, however, continued to offer sanctuary from the madness of everyday life, with a string of artists ensuring 2016 will also be remembered for quality beats and rhymes.
As I always say each year when I post my best-of choices, this list of 100 releases doesn’t represent the only albums and EPs worthy of your attention over the last twelve months, but it does feature the artists and titles that remained in regular rotation for me personally.
So, in the words of Slick Rick, heeeerrre we go….
Timeless Truth – “Cold Wave” (Different Worlds Music Group / Chopped Herring) – Queens, NY blood brothers Oprime39 and Superbad Solace added on to their already impeccable catalogue with this full-length collection of Rotten Apple rawness firmly rooted in the Hip-Hop heritage of their city, evoking images of late-night subway rides, street-corner ciphers and overcrowded studio sessions.
Split Prophets – “Delta Bravo Kilo” (SplitProphets.BandCamp.Com) – Following a number of crew member solo efforts, Bristol’s Split Prophets combined creative forces once again for this quality long-player, with the UK collective keeping everything in-house (no outside producers or guest appearances here) to showcase their lively brand of beats and rhymes.
Them That Do – “Them That Do…” (HiPNOTT) – Jazzy, soulful true-school flavour from Phat Hentoff, Chuck Daily and Jasper Brown, which featured the lyrical trio delivering thoughtful, life-affirming wordplay over the well-crafted soundscapes of Philly-based producer Small Professor.
DITC – “DITC Studios” (Slice-Of-Spice) – The influence of the legendary Diggin’ In The Crates crew on a generation of 90s heads can never be underestimated. Classic releases from Lord Finesse, Showbiz & AG, O.C. etc played a huge part in defining the decade viewed by many as being the pinnacle of the rap game’s golden-era. Proving that true skills are timeless, this album found the core DITC members reuniting for an uncompromising lesson in hardcore Hip-Hop.
AUTOMatic – “Marathon” (AUTOMatic.BandCamp.Com) – The fourth full-length album from Milwaukee’s APRIME 3099 and Trellmatic combined smoothed-out soundscapes inspired by old-school R&B with witty, intelligent lyricism, resulting in a project that was as refreshing as it was entertaining. True-school feel-good flavour.
Ded Tebiase – “Seventy Five” (VillageLive.BandCamp.Com) – A masterful blend of both instrumental and vocal tracks featuring UK talent such as Iron Braydz and Mnsr Frites, “Seventy Five” found Bristol beat king Tebiase offering up some of the best production to be heard in 2016, resulting in an album packed with well-crafted 90s-influenced head-nodders.
DJ Quik & Problem – “Rosecrans” (Diamond Lane Music) – Compton OG Quik joined forces with up-and-comer Problem for this succinct shot of warm, smoothed-out West Coast fonk with a gangsta-edge, offering further proof that David Blake is one of the game’s greatest ever producers. Music to drive-by.
Masta Ace – “The Falling Season” (M3 Entertainment) – Taking it back to the old-school literally, NY rhyme legend Masta Ace revisited his Brooklyn childhood on his seventh solo full-length, with this concept-based project focusing on the former Juice Crew member’s time as a pupil at Sheepshead Bay High in the 1980s. Drawing on a variety of emotions and experiences that helped shape Ace into the talented lyricist we’ve grown to know and cherish, this Kic Beats-produced album was yet another worthy addition to the Masta’s impressive discography.
DJ Skizz – “Cruise Control” (Different Worlds / Fat Beats) – Trading the punchy, boom-bap driven sound of his 2013 album “BQE” for a more lo-fi, loop-based flavour, NY producer Skizz called on microphone heavyweights such as O.C., Milano Constantine and Roc Marciano to bless his minimalist mood music with undeniably captivating results.
Dabbla – “Year Of The Monkey” (High Focus) – Showcasing his sharp delivery and raw couldn’t-give-a-f**k wit, this solo project from London Zoo / Problem Child member Dabbla offered a high-octane lyrical rollercoaster ride over eclectic production from the likes of Chemo, Ghosttown, Sumgii and more. Brilliantly boisterous beats and rhymes.
Discourse – “Megalomaniac” (Crate Cartel) – Australian producer Discourse supplied the likes of Tragedy Khadafi, A.G. and Starvin B with a serious selection of moody and atmospheric soundscapes on this expertly-crafted project, with “Megalomaniac” featuring an impressive array of lyrical talent from Australia, the US and the UK who all did justice to the high-quality beats heard here.
Kelpi NINE – “Forecast.” (KelpiNINE.BandCamp.Com) – Producer-based action coming straight outta the Ukraine, Kelpi NINE demonstrated his talent for blending together subtle. melodic samples and hard, unrelenting drums on this succinct nine-track release.
Broken Poetz – “Soul Searching” (BrokenPoetz2.BandCamp.Com) – An entertaining mix of personal reflection, worldly observations and quality, sample-driven production, this full-length effort from rhyming duo D.Know and Mystero was UK Hip-Hop made with undeniable passion.
Dell-P – “To The Moon And Beyond” (WHOMAG Distribution) – Backed by the soulful production of Samad Dawson, talented Philly wordsmith Dell-P addressed a number of society’s ills and the struggles of Black America throughout this potent project, injecting his music with sincere, heartfelt messages that only became even more relevant in the months following the January release of this album.
Planet Asia & DJ Concept – “Seventy Nine” (Coalmine Records) – Since his 90s debut, West Coast wordsmith Planet Asia has firmly established himself as one of the game’s most consistent emcees. This collaboration with Strong Island-based DJ Concept further solidified that reputation, with PA spitting intricate verses over production with a soulful thump.
Blaq Poet – “The Most Dangerous” (Shinigamie Records) – Queensbridge legend Blaq Poet lyrically stomped all over the rugged production of France’s Kyo Itachi and Venom on this uncompromisingly hardcore album, with appearances from Ruste Juxx, Tragedy Khadafi and Bankai Fam only adding to the overall rawness of the project.
Grindhouse Project – “To Kill A Critic” (GrindhouseProject.BandCamp.Com) – The long-awaited follow-up to 2012’s “GHP Is Like…” EP, “To Kill A Critic” found emcees Trace Motivate and 360 once again joining forces with producers Astro Mega and Futurewave to drop a potent dose of hard, uncut Canadian Hip-Hop.
Sonnyjim – “Mud In My Malbec” (Eat Good / Daupe!) – The UK’s Sonnyjim delivered his exquisite long-awaited album “Mud In My Malbec” in June of 2016, with the project’s mix of understated lyrical arrogance and 70s-flavoured loops conjuring up images of a mink-wearing Willie Dynamite driving through the streets of Birmingham, England, blasting this long-player from the comfort of a customised Cadillac.
Daniel Son & Giallo Point – “The Gunners Tape” (GialloPoint.BandCamp.Com) – Canada’s Daniel Son enlisted the talents of UK producer Giallo Point for this thoroughly impressive twelve-track project, featuring the Toronto emcee pummelling GP’s quality 90s-influenced beats with consistently sharp, vivid and engaging verses.
Daddy Grace aka Born Allah – “No Hip Hop For Grown Men” (Church Of Hip Hop) – As generational debates continued to rage within Hip-Hop, West Coast wordsmith Daddy Grace (aka Born Allah) proudly proclaimed his unshakeable OG status and personified the term ‘grown-man rap’ throughout this impressive debut solo project. Laced with Five Percent Nation influences and LA street swagger, “No Hip Hop For Grown Men” was both righteous and ruthless.
Part Two coming soon.
Posted in Album Reviews, Australian Hip-Hop, Canadian Hip-Hop, East Coast Hip-Hop, UK Hip-Hop, West Coast Hip-Hop
Tagged Australian Hip-Hop, AUTOMatic, Blaq Poet, Born Allah, Broken Poetz, Canadian Hip-Hop, Chopped Herring Records, Church Of Hip Hop, Coalmine Records, Crate Cartel, Dabbla, Daddy Grace, Daniel Son, Daupe!, Ded Tebiase, Dell-P, Diamond Lne Music, Discourse, DITC, DJ Concept, DJ Quik, DJ Skizz, Eat Good Records, Fat Beats, Giallo Point, GrindHouse Project, High Focus Records, HipNott Records, Independent Hip-Hop, Kelpi NINE, M3 Entertainment, Masta Ace, Planet Asia, Problem, Shinigamie Records, Slice-Of-Slice Records, SonnyJim, Split Prophets, Them That Do, Timeless Truth, UK Hip-Hop, Underground Hip-Hop, Village Live Records, West Coast Hip-Hop
Wun Two – “Noite” (@FatBeats / 2016)
Understated late-night flavour from the German producer’s “Baker’s Dozen” project via Fat Beats.
Posted in German Hip-Hop, Music Videos
Tagged Bakers Dozen, Fat Beats, German Hip-Hop, Independent Hip-Hop, Instrumental Hip-Hop, Wun Two
Ohbliv – “GiveMeh” (@Ohbliv / 2016)
A slice of fractured soul from the Virginia producer’s forthcoming “Baker’s Dozen” release via Fat Beats.
Posted in Downloads
Tagged Bakers Dozen, Fat Beats, Independent Hip-Hop, Instrumental Hip-Hop, Ohbliv, Underground Hip-Hop
It’s hard to believe, but even with the amount of quality releases that dropped throughout 2015, there are still people claiming that there isn’t any worthwhile or memorable Hip-Hop being made today.
I’ve always found that way of thinking frustrating, as there has never been a time when there wasn’t good music to be found, but in recent years that argument has become increasingly redundant due to the ever-growing number of talented emcees, deejays and producers out there who’re consistently delivering the goods.
Of course, in today’s digital age, there will always be a huge amount of sub-par material being regularly pumped out via popular platforms such as BandCamp and YouTube, and the mainstream, for the most part, continues to promote the same shallow, one-dimensional rap that it always has done.
But that being said, if you genuinely feel there isn’t anything out there for you as a fan of Hip-Hop, the problem isn’t necessarily with the music, the issue is with those same fans not listening and looking hard enough when it comes to new material.
As I always say when I put these year-end pieces together, the albums and EPs included here aren’t the only releases that were worthy of attention, but this list does reflect what stayed in heavy rotation for me personally.
So, in no particular order, here are the artists and projects that made my speakers thump throughout 2015…
Triple Darkness – “Darker Than Black” (KingUnderground / Suspect Packages) – Cementing their reputation as one of the most talented crews in Hip-Hop, this album from London’s Triple Darkness was a brilliantly-crafted hardcore masterpiece. With group members such as Melanin 9, Cyrus Malachi and Ray Vendetta spitting sharp lyrical darts over gloriously uncompromising production from the likes of Ringz Ov Saturn and 7th Dan, “Darker Than Black” was a shining example of intelligent, underground Hip-Hop at its very best.
Lord Hakim – “Born With A Determined Idea” (LordHakim.BandCamp.Com) – Following in the footsteps of Rakim, Lakim Shabazz and Brand Nubian, Columbus, Ohio wordsmith Lord Hakim proudly repped for the Five Percent Nation throughout this self-produced album, dropping science on the everyday struggle with both passion and insight. Peace to the Gods!
The Cornel West Theory – “Coming From The Bottom” (TheCornelWestTheory.BandCamp.Com) – Hailing from Washington DC, The Cornel West Theory delivered an instense, no-holds-barred listening experience with this lengthy album. Showcasing the group’s thoughts on politics, race and Hip-Hop in 2015 America, “Coming From The Bottom” channeled the spirit of late-80s Public Enemy and BDP, whilst clearly standing strong as a product of the present day.
Big Toast – “The Wedding Fund LP” (Revorg Records) – So you’ve proposed to your significant other, your pockets are flat not fat, and now you have a wedding to plan for. What do you do? In the case of UK emcee Big Toast, you hit the studio and release a dope album to raise cash for your big event. Combining the London lyricist’s blunt, working-class worldview and dry humour with quality production from Sam Zircon, Strange Neighbour and Ill Move Sporadic, “The Wedding Fund LP” was guaranteed to hit the spot both in sickness and in health.
Sadat X – “Never Left” (Loyalty Digital Corp) – The Brand Nubian member proved yet again why he’s considered one of the game’s most timeless artists on his eighth full-length solo project. Steeped in NY pride and featuring appearances from Cormega, Craig G and Black Sheep’s Dres, “Never Left” found the Wild Cowboy drawing on both industry and personal experiences to craft an album that resonated with traditional Rotten Apple flavour.
Paul Nice & Phill Most Chill – “The Fabreeze Brothers” (AE Productions) – If you came-up listening to Hip-Hop in the 80s, still insist on matching your sneakers with your outfit, and regularly use slang like ‘fresh’ and ‘fly’, then this collabo album from NY’s Paul Nice and Illadelphia’s Phill Most Chill was made with you in mind. Capturing the excitement and purity of old-school Hip-Hop with an infectious passion, the pair succeeded in their mission to pay tribute to the foundations of the culture whilst still bringing something unique to the table. Warning – this album should only be listened to whilst standing in a b-boy stance.
Oliver Sudden – “Phenomenaler Steaz” (BoomBapPro.Com) – Straight outta Croydon, South London (aka The Cronx), the talented Sudden utilised his understated, deadpan delivery to great effect on this aptly-titled project, spitting true-school sentiments over top-drawer production from the likes of Giallo Point, Sam Zircon and Downstroke.
Flip – “Reflections” (Ill Adrenaline Records) – With a sound rooted in golden-era boom-bap and mixed with soulful sensibilities, veteran Austrian producer Flip called on heavyweight emcees such as DITC’s AG, Detroit’s Phat Kat and Wu-Tang affiliate Killah Priest to bless his well-crafted soundscapes on this cohesive package of underground flavour.
The Four Owls – “Natural Order” (High Focus Records) – Showing off their impressive lyrical wingspans once again, Verb T, Fliptrix, Leaf Dog and BVA collectively swooped down on the UK Hip-Hop scene for a second time with their sophomore crew album, gaining production support from none other than Gang Starr legend DJ Premier and reducing the so-called competition to mere bird seed in the process.
Large Professor – “Re:Living” (Fat Beats) – Whilst the term ‘legend’ perhaps gets thrown around a little too easily nowadays, self-proclaimed live-guy-with-glasses Extra P is an individual truly deserving of the title. Having had an impact on 90s Hip-Hop that is still being felt today, the Queens, NY resident came correct in 2015, proving ain’t a damn thing changed but the year. With an approach to his craft that remains untainted and uninfluenced by rap’s mainstream circus, Large Pro’s “Re:Living” showcased the sound of an artist who really keeps it real…to himself.
Supastition – “Gold Standard” (Reform School Music) – One of the most consistent emcees of the new millennium, the career of North Carolina-raised lyricist Supastition has undoubtedly contained its fair share of ups-and-downs. Yet throughout, Supa has maintained his honesty and integrity, making music that resonates with fans who are looking for Hip-Hop they can relate to. “Gold Standard” most definitely continued that tradition. Featuring beats from Praise, MoSS and Jonny Cuba, this album found the newest Soundsci member once again dealing with everyday issues, whilst also taking the opportunity to indulge in some good ol’-fashioned braggin’ and boastin’.
DJ Soko – “Domino Effect” (Left Of Center) – Pulling together an impressive array of talent which included Guilty Simpson, Apollo Brown and Rasheed Chappell, Michigan native Soko’s debut project was a robust, speaker-rattling collection of thunderground excellence which avoided the hit-and-miss pitfalls of similar compilation-style releases.
Definite Mass – “Soul Caliber” (Manifest Recordings) – Living up to its title both musically and lyrically, this gem of an album found West Coast wordsmith Definite Mass delivering personal and sincere verses over melodic boom-bap beats, with the likes of Blu and Supreme Cerebral passing by to offer microphone assistance.
Kaimbr – “Bronze Horse” (Kaimbr.BandCamp.Com) – Maryland resident Kaimbr paid homage to Staten Island’s mighty Wu-Tang on this brilliantly-executed concept album, with the Low Budget crew member transforming into his alter-ego Wu Kaim to practice his well-honed microphone martial arts over dusty, Shaolin soul samples.
White Mic – “Do It How You Wanna Do It” (Solidarity Records) – A distinctly personal collection of beats and rhymes, Bored Stiff member White Mic’s “Do It…” found the Cali-based emcee celebrating Hip-Hop’s potential to inspire and motivate, pouring his own life experiences into his music with memorable and emotionally-charged results.
AKD & Deepstar – “Universal Language” (Monad Records) – Seeking to demonstrate the power Hip-Hop has to speak to people from all walks of life, UK emcee Arise King David and Australian producer Deepstar called on the likes of Rapsody, DJ Rob Swift and Phoenix Da Icefire to help make their point, resulting in an overall uplifting listening experience grounded in golden-era sonic values.
J-Live – “His Own Self” (Mortier Music) – Since his mid-90s debut as part of the NY indie scene, the now Atlanta-based J-Live has consistently released intelligent, creative Hip-Hop, with the veteran wordsmith never afraid to show both artistic and personal growth in his music. “His Own Self”, the first of Live’s two full-length 2015 releases, continued to follow that pattern. Entirely self-produced and with no guest appearances, this album found the talented artist covering a variety of topics, ranging from personal finances (“Old S**t”) and teenage memories (“Red & The Kid”) to America’s racial climate (“I Am A Man”).
DJ Wally Pish Posh & T.R.A.C. – “Operation: Revibe” (DJWallyPishPosh.BandCamp.Com) – With a grand plan to “set Hip-Hop back on its path to greatness”, NY duo Pish Posh and T.R.A.C. definitely went some way to achieving their goal with this pure, organic demonstration of the pair’s shared love and appreciation of Hip-Hop culture. Determined to provide listeners with a healthy musical alternative to the shallow waters of the mainstream, this producer / emcee combo definitely brought the best out of each other throughout this release.
Blak Twang & Blackmale Beats – “The Pantheon EP” – Embracing his elder statesman status within the UK Hip-Hop scene, homegrown legend Tony Rotten teamed-up with London production outfit Blackmale Beats for this stirring six-track release. Whether dealing with social issues (“Elevation”), recounting personal dramas (“Highs & Lows”) or reliving Hip-Hop memories (“Classiq Moments”), Twang’s authoritative verses were given even greater impact thanks to Blackmale’s ability to match the lyrical content on offer here with just the right musical tone and mood. Rottonous, indeed.
80’s Babies – “Searching For Happy” (DeeJackson80sBabies.BandCamp.Com) – Detroit-raised producer Tall Black Guy joined forces with Chicago emcee Dee Jackson to deliver music for your mind, body and soul throughout “Searching For Happy”, an album that found the duo respectfully drawing on the passion and creative integrity of golden-era Hip-Hop, whilst proudly carving out their own unique sonic niche in today’s rap game.
Part Two coming soon.
Posted in Album Reviews, East Coast Hip-Hop, Midwest Hip-Hop, Southern Hip-Hop, West Coast Hip-Hop
Tagged 80's Babies, AKD & Deepstar, Big Toast, Blackmale Beats, Blak Twang, Boom Bap Professionals, Born With A Determined Idea, Bronze Horse, Coming From The Bottom, Darker Than Black, Definite Mass, DJ Soko, DJ Wally Pish Posh, Do It How You Wanna Do It, Domino Effect, East Coast Hip-Hop, Fat Beats, Flip, Gold Standard, High Focus Records, His Own Self, Ill Adrenaline Records, Independent Hip-Hop, J-Live, Kaimbr, KingUnderground, Large Professor, Left Of Center, Lord Hakim, Loyalty Digital Corp, Manifest Recordings, Midwest Hip-Hop, Monad Records, Mortier Music, Natural Order, Never Left, Oliver Sudden, Operation Revibe, Paul Nice & Phill Most Chill, Phenomenlaer Steaz, Re:Living, Reflections, Reform School Music, Revorg Records, Sadat X, Searching For Happy, Solidarity Records, Soul Caliber, Southern Hip-Hop, Supastition, T.R.A.C., The Cornel West Theory, The Fabreeze Brothers, The Four Owls, The Pantheon EP, The Wedding Fund LP, Triple Darkness, Underground Hip-Hop, Universal Language, West Coast Hip-Hop, White Mic
Frank Nitt – “Classic” (@FrankNitt / 2015)
Funky DJ Rhettmatic-produced boom-bap from the Detroit-raised emcee’s “Frankie Rothstein” project.
DMC, PMD, MC Serch, Chuck D, Terminator X & DJ Eclipse – “Hellraisers” (FatBeats.Com / 2015)
Producer Big K.O. resurrects the title track of Run-DMC’s classic 1986 album for this golden-era posse cut.
Posted in East Coast Hip-Hop, Music Videos
Tagged Big K.O., Chuck D, DJ Eclipse, DMC, East Coast Hip-Hop, Fat Beats, Independent Hip-Hop, Mc Serch, PMD, Terminator X, Underground Hip-Hop
NY’s DJ Eclipse discusses his early introduction to collecting vinyl for Fuse.TV’s “Crate Diggers” series.
Public Enemy – “Most Of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear On No Stamp” (Slam Jamz) – Twenty five years after their Def Jam debut “Yo! Bum Rush The Show”, arguably the greatest group in Hip-Hop history returned with a robust collection of typically rebelutionary beats and rhymes, with Chuck D joined by allies such as Brother Ali, DMC and Bumpy Knuckles to fire lyrical shots at political figures, mass media corporations and rap culture vultures.
Muneshine – “There Is Only Today” (Droppin’ Science Productions) – Backed by top-notch production from the likes of DJ Spinna, Buckwild and Jeff Spec, Canadian rap renaissance man Muneshine delivered both inspirational and introspective rhymes on this latest addition to his already impressive musical catalogue.
Masta Ace – “MA_DOOM: Son Of Yvonne” (Fat Beats) – Considering how many times MF Doom’s “Special Herbs” beats have been used for freestyles, YouTube videos etc, it would take a talented emcee to make them sound like you were hearing some of them for the first time all over again. But that’s exactly what former Juice Crew member Masta Ace did with this autobiographical project, recalling memories of his Brooklyn childhood and early rap career with his typical attention to detail and story-telling skill.
Purpose & Confidence – “The Purpose Of Confidence” (Ill Adrenaline Records) – Having produced one of 2011’s best albums in the form of his “The Element Of Surprise” collaboration with NY’s Rashad, Boston beat-master Confidence hit the target again in 2012, teaming-up with Tragic Allies emcee Purpose for another accomplished project. Displaying a slightly harder, grittier side to his production this time around to match Purpose’s street-orientated verses, Confidence one again proved his ear for both quality beats and lyrical talent.
Kingdom Of Fear – “Kingdom Of Fear” (YNR Productions) – Inspired by the work of legendary American gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, UK favourites Kashmere and Jehst adopted off-the-wall alter-egos for this larger-than-life concept album, with the pair careering through bright lights and big cities in a haze of weed smoke and Hip-Hop technicolour. Inspired, creative and entertaining.
Oddisee – “People Hear What They See” (Mello Music Group) – Drawing inspiration from a wide-range of real-life experiences and conversations, Washington DC producer-on-the-mic Oddisee’s latest album showcased the sound of a maturing artist, an individual determined to push the boundaries of his own creativity whilst remaining grounded in the underground sound that he built his name on.
Dialect & Despair – “Self Evident” (UKNOWHO Records) – Proving the sentiment behind Rakim’s famous lyric that it ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at, this Australian duo crafted an impressive collection of true-school bangers on the follow-up to their 2010 debut “The Vortex”, featuring an inspired line-up of featured talent including the UK’s Melanin 9, X-Ecutioners member Total Eclipse and D.I.T.C. affiliates Majestic Gage and D Flow.
Sean Price – “Mic Tyson” (Duck Down Records) – Brooklyn’s favourite microphone bully Sean P finally got around to releasing his long-awaited “Mic Tyson” project in 2012, pummeling a concrete-tough selection of beats from the likes of 9th Wonder, Evidence and the UK’s Beat Butcha with his trademark brand of deadpan threats of violence and amusing Hulk-sized boasts.
Verb T – “Morning Process” (High Focus Records) – UK emcee Verb T has always been more interested in letting his talent do the talking rather than trying to shout louder than everyone else. With this latest project, Verbs put the complexities of his own personality under the microscope, describing the thoughts of an emcee entering his thirties who is just as happy shutting himself away from the world for extended periods of time as he is ripping mics onstage for enthusiastic fans. Understated brilliance.
Aarophat – “Invictus” (Ill Sevenz Music Group) – Raised in Ohio but currently based on the West Coast, veteran subterranean wordsmith Aarophat’s seventh full-length project mixed motivational sentiments, down-to-earth life observations and mystical imagery together into one satisfying listening experience, with the authoritative lyricist proving himself to be a true master of his craft by tackling a variey of subject matter with both character and insight.
Constant Deviants – “Diamond” (Six2Six Records) – Gaining notoriety in the 90s with indie favourites such as “Competition Catch Speed Knots”, NY / Baltimore duo M.I. and DJ Cutt returned to the rap game without having missed a beat on this quality album. Blending golden-age flavour with current inspiration, the pair effectively bridged the gap between the past and the present with an undeniable rugged charm. A real diamond in the rough.
Part Five coming soon – check Part One, Part Two and Part Three.
Posted in Album Reviews, Australian Hip-Hop, Canadian Hip-Hop, East Coast Hip-Hop, UK Hip-Hop, West Coast Hip-Hop
Tagged Aarophat, Australian Hip-Hop, Canadian Hip-Hop, Chuck D, Constant Deviants, Dialect & Despair, Diamond, Droppin Science Productions, Duck Down Records, East Coast Hip-Hop, Fat Beats, Flavor Flav, High Focus Records, Ill Adrenaline Records, Ill Sevenz Music Group, Independent Hip-Hop, Invictus, Jehst, Kashmere, Kingdom Of Fear, Masta Ace, Ma_Doom, Mello Music Group, Mic Tyson, Morning Process, Most Of My Heroes Still Don't Appear On No Stamp, Muneshine, Oddisee, People Hear What They Can See, Public Enemy, Purpose & Confidence, Sean Price, Self Evident, Six2Six Records, Slam Jamz, The Purpose Of Confidence, There Is Only Today, UK Hip-Hop, UKNOWHO Records, Underground Hip-Hop, Verb T, West Coast Hip-Hop, YNR Productions
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.
Posted in Album Reviews, Canadian Hip-Hop, East Coast Hip-Hop, Midwest Hip-Hop, UK Hip-Hop, West Coast Hip-Hop
Tagged Analogtronics, Apollo Brown, Back In The Habit, BBP, Boom Bap Professionals, Casual, Dice Game, DITC Records, Donnie Propa, El Tel, Extra Science, Fat Beats, Fraction & Fresh Kils, Gensu Dean, Grand Papa Tra, Guilty Simpson, Habitat, Heavy Links, J Rawls, Lo-Fi Fingahz, Lost In New York, M9, Magna Carta, Math Music Productions, Melanin 9, Mello Music Group, Mugshot Music Preloaded, Nature Sounds, Prose, Respect Game Or Expect Flames, Showbiz & AG, The Essence, Union
Large Professor – “Barber Shop Chop” (Fat Beats / 2012)
Extra P drops some visuals to accompany this instrumental head-nodder from his album “Professor @ Large”.
Brown Bag Allstars – “406 (Fat Beats Tribute)” (BrownBagAllstars.Com / 2012)
The BBA crew deliver a heartfelt tribute to NYC’s now sadly-closed Fat Beats store with this track from their forthcoming EP “Brown Label Pt. 2”.
Union ft. Elzhi – “Wings” (Fat Beats / 2012)
Intergalactic synth-heavy Hip-Hop funk from the French production duo’s album “Analogtronics”.
Posted in French Hip-Hop, Music Videos
Tagged Analogtronics, Elzhi, Fat Beats, French Hip-Hop, Independent Hip-Hop, Slum Village, Underground Hip-Hop, Union
Pseudo Slang – “Rhymes4DaysAnd” (Baby Steps Again / 2012)
Produced by Rawhead.
Posted in East Coast Hip-Hop, Music Videos
Tagged DJ Form, East Coast Hip-Hop, Emcee Sick, Fat Beats, Independent Hip-Hop, Pseudo Slang, Rawhead, Underground Hip-Hop