Tag Archives: Fel Sweetenberg

New Joint – Snowgoons / Jay Royale / Fel Sweetenberg / Illa Ghee / Ali Vegas

Snowgoons ft. Jay Royale, Fel Sweetenberg, Illa Ghee & Ali Vegas – “4 Stripes” (@GoonMuSick / 2019)

Quality posse cut from the German production crew’s “Snowgoons Infantry” album.

New Joint – Finale & Fel Sweetenberg

Finale & Fel Sweetenberg – “Tearz” (@Effiscienz / 2017)

Brass-knuckle rap from the Detroit / New Jersey duo’s recently-released album “Two Kings”.

New Joint – Finale & Fel Sweetenberg

Finale & Fel Sweetenberg – “Six Stringed Puppets” (@Effiscienz / 2017)

Detroit-meets-New Jersey as the two longstanding microphone fiends kick forthright verses on this guitar-laced cut off their new album “Two Kings”.

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2015 (Part Three) – Spit Gemz / Pete Rock / Apathy etc.

Check Part One and Part Two.

Ka & Preservation – “Days With Dr. Yen Lo” (Mon Dieu Music) – Partly inspired by the classic 1962 film “The Manchurian Candidate”, Brooklyn’s Ka once again teamed-up with producer Preservation to craft this understated masterpiece. Combining minimalist, atmospheric soundscapes with Ka’s vivid-yet-subtle lyrical craftmanship, this project was the sonic equivalent of driving through inner-city New York in slow-motion, looking out the window and watching some of the Rotten Apple’s eight million stories unfolding right in front of your eyes.

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Union Blak – “Street English” (Effiscienz) – UK / US duo Sir Williams and Kimba followed-up their 2014 debut for France’s Effiscienz imprint with another quality selection of melodic, uplifting boom-bap and inspirational rhymes, with the pair’s shared love of Hip-Hop and passion for their respective crafts shining through on every track.

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Jise – “The Passion Of Jise” (Creative Juices Music) – Part conceptual, part semi-autobiographical, this intense solo project from Arsonists member Jise One was a dramatic, well-executed sonic roller-coaster which found the Brooklyn emcee pushing the creative envelope as he told emotionally-charged stories from various character perspectives over well-chosen production from the likes of Q-Unique, DJ Insite and Dras79.

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Spit Gemz – “Godly Features” (Broken Home) – As one of the illest emcees to have emerged from NYC in recent years, it came as no surprise to hear Queens resident Spit Gemz holding his own against veteran wordsmiths such as Tragedy Khadafi, Kool G Rap and Shabaam Sahdeeq on this potent release. A tour-de-force of verbal skill, “Godly Features” showcased Gemz delivering a standard of lyricism that many artists today could only hope to aspire to.

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BOOM – “From PG, With Love” (DTMD.BandCamp.Com) – Maryland microphone master BOOM delivered slick, self-assured rhymes over soulful beats on this debut project produced entirely by Dunc of DTMD fame. Representing for his Prince George’s County stomping grounds, the talented artist exuded a quiet confidence throughout this nine-track release which couldn’t fail to endear him to listeners.

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The Kingdom – “Kingdom Come” (TheKingdomMusic.BandCamp.Com) – Following up last year’s impressive “No Rest In The Kingdom” project, North Carolina-based duo King Draft and Jerm Scorcese returned with the boundary-pushing “Kingdom Come”, an album that successfully blended future-shock soul vibes, dusty samples and accomplished, intelligent wordplay into one cohesive, rewarding listening experience.

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Pete Rock – “Petestrumentals 2” (Mello Music Group) – Mount Vernon’s legendary Chocolate Boy Wonder emerged from his basement once again with a new collection of instrumental flavours for 2015, expanding on his trademark production style which influenced a generation of beat-makers. Capturing a variety of sonic tones and textures, Pete did his legacy justice here, effortlessly retaining his title of Hip-Hop’s Soul Brother #1.

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Cold Fusion – “The Elixir” (RingzOVSaturn.BandCamp.Com) – Prior to the 2015 release of the Triple Darkness album “Darker Than Black” (previously mentioned in Part One of this list), group members Ray Vendetta and Cyrus Malachi set the year off with this hardcore jewel, meshing their heavy mental wordplay with the gritty, atmospheric boom-bap of HellzEcho production partnership Ringz Ov Saturn and 7th Dan. “The Elixir” stood as proof that there will always be those whose motivation for picking up a microphone runs deeper than simply chasing overnight success, fame and fortune.

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Starvin B & Fel Sweetenberg – “Soul Museum” (Effiscienz) – Backed by the knocking production of New Jersey’s Fel Sweetenberg, the always-impressive Starvin B added another worthy project to his ever-expanding catalogue with this succinct, straight-to-the-point release for France’s Effiscienz label.

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Chrome & Illinspired – “The All C N I” (B-Line Recordings) – A throwback to the late-80s when the BPMs of hardcore Hip-Hop inspired immediate dancefloor activity, this release from UK duo Chrome & Illinspired was packed with frantic drums, lively loops, fast-paced cuts and high-velocity verbals. If you could listen to this album without breaking into The Running Man at least once, you really needed to get your pulse checked.

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Apathy – “Weekend At The Cape” (Dirty Version Records) – Released as a companion EP to 2014’s “Connecticut Casual” album, “Weekend…” found the acid-tongued Demigodz member once again drawing inspiration from his New England surroundings, delivering typically thorny barbs over largely self-produced beats which ranged from the funky to the melancholy.

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Maffew Ragazino – “VII Million Stories” (WPG) – A potent dose of traditional Rotten Apple rap, Brooklyn’s Ragazino undoubtedly made his borough proud with this street-savvy combination of hard-knock sentiments, motivational jewels and life lessons.

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Mellow Man Ace – “The Lost Decade” (Ultra Slump! Records) – Perhaps one of the most unexpected releases of 2015 came in the form of this album from California veteran Mellow Man Ace. Dropping his own brand of Latin lingo over funky, soulful soundscapes, with the likes of Dinco D (Leaders Of The New School), Jarobi (ATCQ) and Ultra Slump! label-mate Cazal Organism on-hand to offer lyrical assistance, the West Coast emcee delivered a project that was as refreshing as it was nostalgic.

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BRTSound – “Boombap Therapy” (DirtyBeauty) – After checking the title of this release from Russian producer BRTSound, it would have been easy to be misled into thinking you were going to be hearing the work of an unaccomplished beat-head simply attempting to emulate their favourite DJ Premier tracks. However, “Boombap Therapy” was an impressive eight-track effort which found the Moscow music man drawing on both his love of heavy drums and mellow jazz grooves, resulting in what was one of the best instrumental projects heard in 2015.

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AUTOmatic – “ARISING” (AUTOmatic.BandCamp.Com) – Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s A.P.R.I.M.E., Trellmatic and JDL Rockwell combined organic, infectious feel-good vibes with down-to-earth rhymes and soulful, organic beats on this polished five-track EP.

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Nolan The Ninja – “f_ck the hype” (NolanTheNinja.BandCamp.Com) – This highly-anticipated project from Detroit’s Nolan The Ninja showcased the 23-year-old artist’s ferocious flow and gritty delivery to great effect, with the passionate producer-on-the-mic being joined by Phat Kat, Finale and Hassaan Mackey as he verbally attacked a selection of raw, basement-style beats.

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UGeorge – “The Many Faces Of UGeorge” (WorldExpo Records) – The Atlanta-based Soundsci member unleashed his brilliant solo project “The Many Faces Of…” towards the end of the year, featuring UGeorge defining the term ‘grown-man rap’ as he invited listeners into the world of the proud “40-year-old rapper”, tackling a number of topics with a true-school attitude over impeccable production from Ollie Teeba, Jonny Cuba, SilentSomeone and more.

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Lewis Parker & Eastkoast – “MK Ultra” (KingUnderground Records) – Talented UK producer Lewis Parker (aka The Man With The Golden Sound) laced NY-raised emcee Eastkoast with a typically high-standard of beats on this captivating collaborative effort featuring Shabaam Sahdeeq, $amhill and El Da Sensei.

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Grand Daddy I.U. – “P.I.M.P.” (Steady Flow Records) – The tone of this album from veteran Strong Island emcee Grand Daddy I.U. was summed up succinctly by just one lyric – “I don’t make trap music, I ain’t from down South, I make New York Hip-Hop, ‘Cos that’s what I’m about.” Combining the same blend of slick street talk and cocky bravado heard on his 1990 debut “Smooth Assassin”, the Rotten Apple wordsmith embraced his OG status in no uncertain terms on this release, proving that with age comes wisdom, experience and the right to slap a young buck in the domepiece.

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Constant Deviants – “Avant Garde” (Six2Six Records) – Two decades after their debut, the Baltimore / NY duo of DJ Cutt and M.I. proved they were still capable of delivering quality beats and rhymes, with their music remaining rooted in the group’s golden-era origins without sounding stuck in the past. Displaying a creative chemistry that deserved to be compared to that once shared by the likes of Gang Starr or Pete Rock & CL Smooth in their prime, this fourth full-length Constant Deviants project found Cutt and M.I confirming a definite mastery of their distinctive brand of authentic East Coast  flavour.

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Part Four coming soon.

New Joint – Dirt Platoon / Fel Sweetenberg

Dirt Platoon ft. Fel Sweetenberg – “Old Album” / “86 Ushers Anniversary Picnic” (@Effiscienz / 2015)

Back-to-back Fel Sweetenberg-produced bangers from the Baltimore duo’s recent album “Bare Face Robbery”.

New Joint – Starvin B & Fel Sweetenberg

Starvin B & Fel Sweetenberg – “Eye Of The Storm” (@Effiscienz / 2015)

Witty wordplay and bass-heavy beats from the NY / NJ duo’s recently-released collabo album “Soul Museum”.

Soul Museum Album Stream – Starvin B / Fel Sweetenberg

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Queen, NY emcee Starvin B joins forces with New Jersey producer-on-the-mic Fel Sweetenberg for this quality collection of sharp verses and head-nodding beats released via France’s Effiscienz label.

Soul Museum Album Sampler – Starvin B / Fel Sweetenberg

Snippets of the forthcoming Effiscienz release “Soul Museum” from Queens, NY emcee Starvin B produced entirely by New Jersey’s Fel Sweetenberg.

New Joint – Starvin B / Fel Sweetenberg

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Starvin B ft. Fel Sweetenberg – “Cool Breeze” (@Effiscienz / 2015)

Taken from the Queens, NY emcee’s forthcoming album “Soul Museum” produced entirely by New Jersey’s Fel Sweetenberg.

New Joint – Dirt Platoon

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Dirt Platoon – “Old Album” (@Efficienz / 2015)

Baltimore duo Raf Almighty and Snook Da Crook fire off the first salvo from their forthcoming album “Bare Face Robbery”.

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2014 (Part Four) – Ayatollah / Jam Baxter / The Roots etc.

Check Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

Fel Sweetenberg – “The Invisible Garden” (Effiscienz) – Dedicated to, and inspired by, his Camden, NJ stomping grounds, former Nuthouse member Fel Sweetenberg’s latest EP featured the accomplished lyricist highlighting the negative aspects of his East Coast locale, whilst also celebrating the positive elements. Accompanied by solid production from France’s DJ Brans, Sweetenberg drove his thoughts, hopes and opinions home with a forthright delivery and nimble wordplay.

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Vanderslice – “Everything’s Awesome” (Dirty Version Records) – A punchy combination of instrumentals, interludes and vocal tracks, “Everything’s Awesome” found Phoenixville, PA producer Vanderslice chopping 80s-style electric guitar samples over dense, rock-solid beats, whilst the likes of Apathy, Celph Titled and Maffew Ragazino matched the album’s swaggering soundscapes with unabashed lyrical arrogance.

Vanderslice - Everything's Awesome

Luca Brazi – “Dying Proof” (Broke Records) – The Granville Sessions-affiliated wordsmith demonstrated his artistic range on this self-produced masterpiece by capturing a variety of moods and emotions throughout, moving from pensive verses and weighty self-reflection to sharp, ego-driven rhymes, all accompanied by Brazi’s  skillfully-crafted beats.

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Koss & A.G. – “Natural High” (Reaaal Talk Records) – Built on true-school values, this EP from Belgian producer Koss and Diggin’ In The Crates legend A.G. found the pair utilising their shared love of Hip-Hop to bridge any potential cultural gaps. Koss’s mellow, melodic beats provided Andre The Giant with plenty of breathing space for his trademark Bronx flow, as the lyricist dropped his usual mix of  thoughtful life lessons and direct braggadocio. Feel the high!

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Mr. Brady – “Timing Is Everything” (URBNET Records) – Underground West Coast vet Mr. Brady put his two decades of musical experience to good use on this self-produced project. Joined by the likes of Moka Only, LMNO and Blu, the San Diego resident crafted an album packed with intricate lyricism and soulful, bass-heavy beats, with the organic feel of “Timing Is Everything” giving listeners the impression they’d stumbled across an extended cypher jam session.

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Ayatollah – “Be Real Black For Me” (Elementality Productions) – With a storied production career that includes working with the likes of Mos Def, Masta Ace and Cormega, Queens, NY music man Ayatollah has been supplying us with quality music since the late-90s. This latest (largely instrumental) sonic endeavor blended emotive jazz / soul samples with head-nodding drums, resulting in a satisfying collection of stirring mood music.

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Raw Product – “Supplying The Demand” (De Facto Entertainment) – The aptly-named UK emcee / producer duo of Flix and Stealf definitely brought the raw to your door with this tight EP which also featured lyrical heavyweights Jehst, Cappo and Micall Parknsun. Stealf’s rugged beats and dusty loops provided the perfect backdrop for Flix’s rowdy flow and sharp verbal barbs, with the pair effectively showcasing an uncompromising but creative approach to their music.

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The Ol’ Days – “1979” (JimBro Records) – Chicago duo Rookie Chi and DJ Ki provided listeners with an entertaining mix of soul-drenched production, humour and throwback flavour on their debut album. Covering everyday subject matter from parking tickets and petrol prices to relationships and record-shopping, “1979” was a personality-filled project that made you crack a smile at the same time as it was making your neck snap.

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The Doppelgangaz – “Peace Kehd” (Groggy Pack Entertainment) – Displaying a slightly more polished and, in places, contemporary sound than had been heard on their previous outings, NY’s Ghastly Duo still proved they weren’t ready to take their cloaks off and fully step out of the shadows just yet, with Matter Ov Fact and EP filling “Peace Kehd” with their trademark brand of left-field lyricism, random observations and dark imagery.

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Shinobi Stalin – “Invisible Man” (Vets Of Kin) – Some emcees simply sound like they were born to rhyme. Bronx-born, Orlando-raised Stalin is one such artist. With a striking-yet-fluid lyrical style and a gift for penning meaningful, attention-grabbing verses, the talented wordsmith’s “Invisible Man” project provided an open window into the mind of this engaging artist as he attempted to navigate life with Hip-Hop as his soundtrack.

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Calvert & K Zorro – “Captured Soul” (KGuavara.BandCamp.Com) – An expertly-executed blend of honesty, confidence and vulnerability, London emcee K Zorro drew on both childhood memories and present day situations as his inspiration for this emotionally-charged release. A joint effort in the truest sense of the term, Calvert’s sample-based production perfectly matched the tone and feel of Zorro’s streetwise verses, ensuring “Captured Soul”  was well-equipped to capture the minds of all who heard it.

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Azaia – “Re-Animations” (Marvel Records) – French producer Azaia enlisted the talents of a varied bunch of mic-controllers for his debut album, with the likes of John Robinson, Reks and Dirt Platoon all blessing the quality instrumental creations being offered to them. Heavy drums, echoing horns and seismic basslines were on the list of musical ingredients here, with Azaia proving himself to be a true scientist when it came to bringing dope beats to life.

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Willie The Kid & Bronze Nazareth – “The Living Daylights” (Embassy Entertainment) – Described by the Michigan duo as “progressive boom-bap”, this project featured Wu-Tang-affiliate Nazareth supplying the slick-tongued Kid with a steady stream of quality beats laced with classic soul samples, providing the project’s vivid rhymes with added depth and encouraging featured artists such as Roc Marciano, Boldy James and Sean Price to drop MVP-level performances.

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Jam Baxter – “…So We Ate Them Whole” (High Focus Records) – If UK emcee Jam Baxter had been born in the 19th century the likelihood is that his poetic verses would be studied in schools today. Packing this solo album with an endless barrage of multi-layered rhymes, Baxter displayed a talent for making every line count, with fresh meaning to be found in his wordplay during each listen. Talented production vet Chemo bolstered Jam’s complex lyricism with an intoxicating score of boundary-pushing sounds, making “…So We Ate Them Whole” a challenging but ultimately rewarding musical experience.

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Git & Hubbs – “Piece Of Mind” (UsedWax Records) – Displaying an undeniable creative chemistry, Staten Island producer Git Beats and Pittsburgh emcee Hubbs filled this collaborative album with jazzy, head-nodding vibes and authoritative rhymes ranging from the introspective to the boastful. Timeless music.

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Iron Braydz – “Verbal sWARdz” (Unorthostract Recordings) – Everything you needed to know about this EP from Triple Darkness member Braydz could be found in its title. Swinging his formidable lyrical talent in the direction of lesser emcees, culture vultures and uncivilised individuals, the London wordsmith attacked this largely self-produced release with the precision of a Shaolin warrior looking to take some heads. Joined by equally skillful tongue-fu practitioners such as Kyza, Prince Po and Sean Price, Braydz ensured “Verbal sWARdz” maintained a sharp edge throughout.

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Us Natives & Skrewtape – “No Filter” (Skrewtape.BandCamp.Com) – Teaming-up with production duo Ill Clinton and John E Cab, New Jersey’s Skrewtape delivered an album that was both uncompromising and unpredictable, capturing the raw energy of an emcee clearly passionate about his craft. At times sounding like an impromptu basement freestyle session, “No Filter” gave the mainstream the metaphorical finger whilst reveling in its unapologetic ruggedness.

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Ill Tal – “Still Trapped In The 90s” (IllTal.BandCamp.Com) – A brilliantly crafted tribute to one of the greatest periods in Hip-Hop history, this instrumental project from New Jersey producer Ill Tal gave sonic nods of respect to the likes of Pete Rock, DJ Muggs and Q-Tip with its combination of jazzy samples, huge basslines and dusty drums. Far more than just a simple beat-tape, Ill Tal’s attention to detail throughout “Still Trapped…” further demonstrated the crate-digger’s admiration for the decade that gave us so many undisputed classics.

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Step Brothers – “Lord Steppington” (Rhymesayers Entertainment) – Displaying no signs of sibling rivalry, Evidence and The Alchemist unleashed all types of sonic illness on this long-awaited collaboration project. Hardcore Hip-Hop with a dry sense of humour, the West Coast twosome filled this album with a non-stop flow of punchline-heavy verses, screwface-inducing samples and random soundbites. Steppington to the AM!

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The Roots – “…And Then You Shoot Your Cousin” (Def Jam) – It’s damn near impossible at this stage for anyone to dispute that Illadelphia’s mighty Roots crew are one the greatest Hip-Hop groups of all-time. With their eleventh album further expanding the collective’s creative territory, Black Thought and Questlove led listeners on a dark journey with this concept-based project commenting on violence in Hip-Hop and American society. Not always the easiest album to listen to, “…And Then You Shoot Your Cousin” proved that, even after all their years in the game,  The Roots just aren’t content to simply retread old ground.

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The fifth and final part of this list is coming soon. 

Psalms Of A Soldier EP Stream – Fel Sweetenberg

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The New Jersey emcee puts his own lyrical stamp on a selection of Apollo Brown beats from the Detroit producer’s “Thirty Eight” instrumental album released earlier this year, plus his 2012 “Dice Game” project with Guilty Simpson.

New Joint – Raf Almighty / Kimba / Fel Sweetenberg

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Raf Almighty, Kimba & Fel Sweetenberg – “Effiscienz Summer” (@Effiscienz / 2014)

French label Effiscienz rounds-up a few of its artists to drop verses over a smooth sample from L.T.D.’s 70s soul classic “Love Ballad” courtesy of DJ Brans.

New Joint – Fel Sweetenberg

Fel Sweetenberg – “The Name Itself” (Effiscienz.Com / 2014)

Taken from the New Jersey lyricist’s DJ Brans-produced project “The Invisible Garden”.

New Joint – Fel Sweetenberg / Dirt Platoon

Fel Sweetenberg ft. Dirt Platoon – “The End Of The Book – Cool FD Remix” (@FelSweetenberg / 2014)

French producer Cool FD won the recent Effiscienz Records remix contest with this impressive reworking of a track from Sweetenberg’s new project “The Invisible Garden”.

New Joint – Fel Sweetenberg / Dirt Platoon / DJ Djaz

Fel Sweetenberg ft. Dirt Platoon & DJ Djaz – “The End Of The Book” (@Effiscienz / 2014)

The New Jersey emcee joins forces with Baltimore’s Dirt Platoon on this track from his recent album “The Invisible Garden” produced by France’s DJ Brans.

Check my review of “The Invisible Garden” here.

New Joint – Fel Sweetenberg

Fel Sweetenberg – “Power Stricken” (Effiscienz.Com / 2014)

Taken from the New Jersey emcee’s DJ Brans-produced project “The Invisible Garden”.

Peep my review of the album here.

Album Review – Fel Sweetenberg

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Fel Sweetenberg

“The Invisible Garden” 

(Effiscienz Records)

New Jersey’s Fel Sweetenberg first came to the attention of many underground heads back in the late-90s as part of the trio Da Nuthouse, with the crew leaving an indelible mark on the subterranean rap scene thanks to 1998’s sublime John Coltrane-sampling “A Luv Supream” on Bobbito’s infamous Fondle ‘Em imprint.

Fast-forward approximately a decade-and-a-half and the love of Hip-Hop culture expressed by Sweetenberg on that cult classic debut single can still clearly be felt throughout his latest project, the ten-track album “The Invisible Garden”.

A dedication of sorts to his Camden, NJ stomping grounds, and also a comment on the apparent lack of attention paid to those living, struggling and dying on the Garden State streets that Fel calls home, “The Invisible Garden” is a succinct collection of gritty, true-school cuts, blending raw beats and soulful samples with aggressive displays of emcee bravado and moments of poignant contemplation.

Produced entirely by France’s DJ Brans, the Effiscienz-affiliated beat-maker uses “The Invisible Garden” as an opportunity to continue building on his already impressive reputation for crafting quality beats that are grounded in the head-nodding aesthetic of golden-era boom-bap.

The album opens with a news reporter describing Camden, New Jersey as being “the poorest city in the nation and the most dangerous city all in the same place”, setting the tone for the haunting “In A Dream, I Saw”, which finds Sweetenberg painting lyrical pictures of a community in crisis, populated by directionless youth and residents searching for a better future, both of whom are ignored by wider society (“Trying to say the situation down here isn’t critical, They benched the whole police force, Ain’t enforcing the principles, Honour and dignity, Or public safety, Blacks and Ricans get killed, That’ll make the news, maybe…”).

On the sombre “Drinkin’ Again”, the forthright lyricist describes his personal struggle with the temptation of finding his thoughts and problems floating at the bottom of a bottle, promising himself that the blurred recollections of the previous night will be the last time the rapper ends an evening staring at his reflection in a toilet bowl.

Elsewhere, the soundtrack-style sample stab heard on “Power Stricken” adds a dramatic edge to Fel’s rugged wordplay and larger-than-life boasts, whilst “Hyena’s Den” features the NJ emcee facing-off against fellow lyricist Almighty, with the pair letting of attitude-fuelled verses over Brans’ punchy drums.

“Good=Love” shows a warmer side to Sweetenberg’s New Jeru, with the wordsmith reflecting on the importance of family and friends, encouraging listeners to celebrate personal victories and cherish important memories over stirring strings and smooth keys.

Successfully injecting his brand of hardcore Hip-Hop with  genuine emotion and sincerity, Fel Sweetenberg’s “The Invisible Garden” is definitely worthy of your attention, and, whilst the plight of Camden, NJ’s locals may be largely unseen, hopefully the music of this hometown homeboy won’t go unheard.

Ryan Proctor

Follow Fel Sweetenberg On Twitter – @FelSweetenberg

Fel Sweetenberg – “The Invisible Garden” Album Sampler

The Invisible Garden Album Trailer – Fel Sweetenberg

Trailer for the forthcoming album “The Invisible Garden” from East Coast emcee Fel Sweetenberg and produced entirely by France’s DJ Brans.

New Joint – Blessa

Blessa – “Love You Back” (@30AndOverLeague / 2014)

The Philly emcee offers some cautionary words to the young’uns on this gritty Fel Sweetenberg-produced track off his forthcoming album “”Poor Man’s Copy”.