Tag Archives: Figub Brazlevic

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2018 (Part Three) – Concept Of Thought / Roc Marciano / Kev Brown etc.

Check Part One and Part Two.

Concept Of Thought – “Misty Blue” (Yogocop.BandCamp.Com) – A truly life-affirming listening experience, emcees Awfew and Illiterate shone some light into the darkness on this beautifully crafted EP. Blessing the jazzy elegance of producer Joe Corfield with a steady flow of positive vibes, the pair delivered verses inspired by both their Brighton stomping grounds and the memory of a friend lost during their youth. Soothing, dream-like mood music.

Ankhlejohn & Big Ghost Ltd – “Van Ghost” (ShaapRecords.BandCamp.Com) – An undeniably good combination, the raspy rhymes of Washington’s Ankhlejohn sat perfectly atop the uncompromisingly raw production of Big Ghost throughout this satisfyingly sinister release. Eerie pianos, unsettling samples and solid drums provided a fittingly atmospheric backdrop for Ankhlejohn’s unique brand of verbal violence.

Fliptrix – “INEXHALE” (HighFocus.BandCamp.Com) –  There was something therapeutic about listening to Fliptrix’ seventh solo album.. The project resonated with a feeling, an energy, a vibration that did more than simply make your head-nod or inspire you to pick-out a few favourite quotables. Possessing a tone, flow and delivery which was as effective puncturing holes in the egos of his competition as it was delivering commentary on aspects of the human experience, all facets of Fliptrix’s artistry were brought together brilliantly on “INEXHALE”, with the project giving a sincere nod of respect to UK Hip-Hop’s past whilst boldly striding forward into its future.

Roc Marciano – “RR 2 – The Bitter Dose” (RocMarci.Com) – Largely self-produced, this sequel to last year’s “Rosebudd’s Revenge” album set off what was an extremely productive year for the Strong Island emcee. Roc’s trademark brand of slick New York pimp talk glided over smooth, old-school soul loops, resulting in an album that sounded like it could be the soundtrack to a yet-to-be-completed “Willie Dynamite” film remake.

Klaus Layer & Figub Brazlevic – “Slice Of Paradise” (FigubBrazlevic.Bandcamp.Com)Featuring an international line-up of collaborators from countries such as the UK, Russia and France, talented German producers Klaus Layer and Figub Brazlevic showcased their shared passion for dusty drums and soulful samples on this impressive long-player.

Skyzoo – “In Celebration Of Us” (First Generation Rich Inc) – Skyzoo’s catalogue is impeccable. Since 2005 the Brooklyn emcee has released project after project which have each seen his writing abilities reach new heights. It could be argued that “In Celebration…” stands as Skyzoo’s greatest piece of work to date. Boasting multi-layered rhymes which reveal new meaning with each listen, plus top-notch production from the likes of Apollo Brown, !llmind and Tuamie, this album found the gifted emcee capturing his life experiences growing-up in inner-city NY with an engrossing blend of subtle inflection and vivid descriptions.

Vinnie Paz – “The Pain Collector” (Enemy Soil / JMTHipHop.Com) – The Jedi Mind Tricks frontman delivered another heavy dose of his trademark righteous rawness on his fourth solo album, balancing punch-you-in-the-face aggression with moments of poignant reflection. This project definitely wasn’t made for the faint-hearted, but if you were expecting the Philly legend to drop anything other than uncompromising, hardcore Hip-Hop then you obviously haven’t been paying attention over the last twenty-plus years since JMT’s debut.

Bumpy Knuckles & Nottz – “Pop Duke Volume One” (BumpyKnuckles.BandCamp.Com) – Bumpy Knuckles (aka Freddie Foxxx) has made a career out of lyrically slapping wack emcees with absolutely no regrets. The man’s place in Hip-Hop’s history books is unshakeable. This collaborative project with producer Nottz found Bumpy fully embracing his OG status, showing the game some tough love in his usual gruff manner, dropping jewels in the process.

WateRR & DirtyDiggs – “Wizard Of The Crystal” (WateRR.BandCamp.Com) – Chicago emcee WateRR delivered slick, swaggering wordplay over the dusty loops of West Coast production outfit DirtyDiggs on this concise EP. Featuring the likes of Supreme Cerebral, Recognize Ali and Nowaah The Flood, this release was all about lyricism and genuine rhyme skills. Show and prove.

Kev Brown – “Homework” (KevBrown.BandCamp.Com) – Clocking in at an ambitious twenty-nine tracks, this welcome return from Maryland-based producer-on-the-mic Kev Brown captured the sound of a master at work. Blending  gritty sample chops with understated wordplay, the talented music man delivered an effective sonic lecture demonstrating how a student can become the teacher.

Parallax – “Auditory Vision” (ParallaxOfficialStore.BandCamp.Com) – Delivering on the potential displayed throughout his impressive 2014 EP “Depth Perception”, London lyricist Parallax dropped his official debut album “Auditory Vision”, an accomplished, well-executed project featuring personal, thought-provoking rhymes and quality production from the likes of Ded Tebiase, DJ Nappa and Wickstarr.

OC From NC – “It’s Not You, It’s Me” (OCFromNC.BandCamp.Com) – Having spent recent years proving himself to be an exceptionally consistent artist thanks to a string of quality projects, North Carolina’s OC added another release to his already impressive catalogue, with “It’s Not You, It’s Me” featuring the talented lyricist’s usual mix of boisterous bravado and thoughtful life observations.

Chairman Maf – “Ginger” (ChairmanMaf.BandCamp.Com) – This sixth instrumental album from UK producer Chairman Maf showcased the Sheffield music man’s ever-sharp ear for a soulful sample. Ranging from upbeat quirkiness and sophisticated smoothness to raw boom-bap, Maf proved himself to be a genuine chairman of the board with this masterful collection of dusty-fingered dopeness.

Funky DL – “Dennison Point” (FunkyDL.BandCamp.Com) – Having already dropped the impressive “Blackcurrent Jazz 3” earlier in the year (included in Part One of this list), multi-talented UK artist Funky DL looked back to his youth for the inspiration behind this brilliantly crafted concept album, with the longstanding Hip-Hop vet reminiscing on his time growing-up in East London over his trademark jazzy, true-school production.

Tragedy Khadafi & BP – “Immortal Titans” (FBDistribution.BandCamp) – Having influenced various Queensbridge legends such as Nas, Mobb Deep and Killa Sha, the Intelligent Hoodlum joined forces with producer BP to deliver his timeless brand of project poetry and pyramid wisdom over concrete-cracking beats. Aura check!

Summers Sons – “Undertones” (SummersSons2.BandCamp.Com) – London-raised, Bristol-based blood brothers Turt and Slim showcased their organic, jazz-influenced stylings on this quality collection of mellow head-nodders. The perfect soundtrack to warm, hazy July evenings, “Undertones” was a satisfyingly soothing listening experience. You gots to chill.

Nujericans – “A La Mala” (Nujericans.BandCamp.Com) – New Jersey representatives Sol Zalez and Joey Dynomite dropped their debut collection of raw-yet-funky beats and rhymes, with the pair offering a nod of respect to the 90s East Coast underground whilst maintaining their own flavour and sonic personality.

Shuko – “1996” (Shuko.BandCamp.Com) – German producer Shuko paid homage to the mid-90s with this brilliantly crafted collection of drum-heavy, sample-based instrumentals, respectfully offering a sonic nod to the likes of De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest in the process.

Joe Corfield – “Patterns” (RadioJuicy.BandCamp.Com) – Having already blessed two of 2018’s finest releases with his trademark production sound (Fliptrix’s “Inexhale” and Concept Of Thought’s “Misty Blue”), UK music man Joe Corfield kept the momentum going with this sublime selection of hypnotic, jazz-influenced instrumentals via Germany’s Radio Juicy imprint.

Juga-Naut & Sonnyjim – “The Purple Door” (EatGoodRecords.BandCamp.Com) – Two of the UK’s finest joined forces for this brilliant collection of well-crafted verses and ill beats, with Nottingham’s Juga-Naut proving yet again why he deserves to be mentioned in any conversation regarding the dopest emcees currently gripping microphones, whilst Sonnyjim flexed his production muscle like a true master, flipping some quality samples throughout..

Part Four coming soon.

Slice Of Paradise Album Stream – Klaus Layer & Figub Brazlevic

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Featuring an international line-up of collaborators from countries such as the UK, Russia and France, talented German producers Klaus Layer and Figub Brazlevic showcase their shared passion for dusty drums and soulful samples on this impressive long-player.

New Joint – Teknical Development.IS & Figub Brazlevic

Teknical Development.IS & Figub Brazlevic ft. Educut – “The Terradome” (FigubBrazlevic.BandCamp.Com / 2018)

Top-quality flavour off the UK emcee and German producer’s new collabo project “Strictly 4 All”.

 

4×4 Palestine Jeep Beats EP Stream – Figub Brazlevic

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The nod factor is high on this new collection of sample-based beats laced with live instrumentation from Germany’s Figub Brazlevic.

New Joint – Teknical Development.IS

Teknical Development.IS – “Message 101” (TekDIS.BandCamp.Com / 2017)

Intricate lyricism from the Obba Supa / Man Of Booom member produced by Berlin’s Figub Brazlevic.

New Joint – Christmaz & Figub Brazlevic

Christmaz & Figub Brazlevic – “Sun & Moon” (Krekpek.Com / 2016)

Moody, hypnotic boom-bap from Swedish emcee Christmaz’s forthcoming Brazlevic-produced album “Ego & Soul”.

 

New Joint – Epidemic

Epidemic – “From The Beginning” (@HexOne1 / 2016)

Talented Florida-based duo Hex One and Tek-nition bless piano-laced production from Germany’s Figub Brazlevic for this track off their forthcoming album “4 Dimensions On A Paper”.

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2015 (Part Five) – Life MC / Ghostface Killah / People Under The Stairs etc.

Check Part One, Part Two, Part Three & Part Four.

LEX – “Break The Pattern” (LEXOfSinistahCircle.BandCamp.Com) – Frantic and fast-paced, this fourteen-track EP (yes, fourteen tracks!) found the Queens, NY emcee delivering short, sharp displays of lyrical dexterity over bursts of dusty breakbeats. Raw, rugged and fuelled by the essence of old-school Rotten Apple park jams, “Break The Pattern” showcased LEX as an artist who is as passionate about respecting the culture of Hip-Hop as he is about  knocking out his competition.

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Equipto & Otayo Dubb – “Baby Steps” (Solidarity Records) – The West Coast has always had a rich, creative underground scene and this collaborative effort from Bored Stiff’s Equipto and fellow Cali representative Otayo Dubb is a worthy addition to a musical timeline that includes the likes of Freestyle Fellowship, Likwit Crew and Hieroglyphics. Poignant life observations and verbal showmanship were combined here with expert precision, resulting in an album that was as sincere and earnest as it was entertaining.

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Thaione Davis – “Donald Mayhem – Skywritters” (ThaioneDavis.Com) – Taking on the character of Donald Mayhem for this captivating self-produced concept album, veteran Chicago lyricist Thaione Davis blended street-savvy bravado with an insightful social conscience as he took listeners on a guided tour through the Windy City.

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Life MC & Badhabitz – “Deep In The Trenches” (SplitProphets.BandCamp.Com) – Longstanding UK lyricist Life proved once again why he’s considered one of the most consistent emcees to have emerged from British shores with this uncompromising release produced by Split Prophets’ Badhabitz. Accompanied by a sample-driven selection of radio-unfriendly beats, Life flexed his trademark punchline-heavy flow with the type of confidence that only worldly experience can bring, covering topics such as Hip-Hop stereotypes, misguided celebrity worship and institutional racism.

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Daniel Son – “Moonshine Chemist” (CrateDivizion.BandCamp) – Toronto’s Daniel Son teamed-up with the Crate Divizion production squad to spit vivid, action-packed rhymes over quality, sample-laced beats from Giallo Point, Vic Grimes and Kurse.

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Figub Brazlevic & Teknical Development – “The Everyday Headnod” (Vinyl Digital) – This joint effort from Berlin producer Figub and London lyricist Tek was easily one of the most well-crafted releases of 2015. Combining jazzy, full-bodied boom-bap with intricate, intelligent verses, the two Man Of Booom members delivered an album with real creative depth that was both life-affirming and speaker-rocking.

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DJ Pressure Presents The Old Boys Club – “Revival Of The Real” (DJPressure.BandCamp.Com) – Manchester, England’s DJ Pressure pulled together a huge global collective of true-school representatives for this epic compilation project. Featuring appearances from Chuck D, Ruste Juxx, Da Buze Bruvaz’ CleverOne and more, this project truly lived up to its title by delivering a hard-hitting collection of beats and rhymes from individuals totally disinterested in pandering to mainstream trends.

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R.A.W. (Problemz & DJ Skizz) – “Right Amount Of Wrong” (Soulspazm) – Having been a fan of Brooklyn’s Problemz since his 90s work with the likes of DJ Honda, Al’ Tariq and Black Attack, it was a real pleasure to hear the NY emcee sounding like he hadn’t missed a beat on this dope EP, lacing the moody production of DJ Skizz with a barrage of gritty BK wordplay that was both hardcore and refined.

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Adrian Younge & Ghostface Killah – “12 Reasons To Die II” (Linear Labs) – Although sequels are often known for not living up to the impact of their predecessors, this follow-up to West Coast music man Younge’s 2014 collaboration with the mighty Toney Starks actually improved on the formula of the original “12 Reasons…”. Set in 1970s New York and based around a crime-riddled cinematic plot, “…To Die II” found the Wu warrior once again attacking an impeccable selection of live, analog soundscapes with his detailed story-telling skills.

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Denmark Vessey – “Martin Lucid Dream” (Rappers I Know) – Displaying a brilliant artistic mind, Detroit-raised Vessey mixed a gritty, realistic worldview with an eloquent delivery and the thump of soulfully distorted production on this eight-track masterpiece. Featuring appearances from Guilty Simpson, Tanya Morgan and Black Milk, there was a genuinely timeless appeal to this EP which was both inspiring and thought-provoking.

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Aim & QNC – “The Habit Of A Lifetime (And How To Kick It)” (Atic Records) – Veteran UK producer Aim and NY duo Q-Ball & Curt Cazal built on a longstanding sonic chemistry that dates back to the 90s with this long-awaited project. With both Aim and JVC Force member Cazal sharing production duties, Q-Ball had plenty of sample-based flavour to take advantage of, with both a Grand Puba collaboration and a dope Guru tribute ensuring this album’s true-school value was through the roof.

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People Under The Stairs – “The Gettin’ Off Stage, Step 1” (Piecelock70) – At this stage in their career, West Coast natives People Under The Stairs surely deserve to be classed as one of Hip-Hop’s greatest ever duos. Having remained consistent in terms of both quality and quantity since their late-90s debut, Thes One and Double K’s already-extensive discography was further expanded with the release of this quality EP. Packed with more of the feel-good funk the pair have become known for, this project proved that, almost twenty years since they first dropped on wax, the pair still sound as fresh and enthusiastic as ever.

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Public Enemy – “Man Plans God Laughs” (SpitDigital) – After Melle Mel in his 1980s prime, Chuck D ranks as arguably the most authoritative voice in Hip-Hop of all-time. Showing no signs of letting-up their attack on the establishment almost thirty years after Public Enemy’s Def Jam debut, the legendary group returned in 2015 with yet another dose of potent edutainment, proving that Strong Island’s self-proclaimed rhyme animal still isn’t ready to be caged.

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Conway – “Reject 2…” (Griselda Records) – Hailing from the home of late, great funk-rock legend Rick James, Buffalo, NY’s Conway delivered his own collection of street songs on this captivating Daringer-produced project. Joined by WestsideGunn, Roc Marciano and Skyzoo, the East Coast wordsmith wove nimble-yet-grimy verses around moody, hypnotic soundscapes, resulting in a gripping listening experience.

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Illinformed – “The Mould Tape” (Real Life Drama Records) – Whilst this album contained a lengthy list of talented UK emcees, including Leaf Dog, Sonnyjim and Verb T, it was music man Illinformed’s impeccable work behind the boards that really elevated the project above being simply just another producer-based release. Heavy drums, obscure samples and dense b-lines were the order of the day here, ensuring that, regardless of its title, “The Mould Tape” was anything but past its sell by date.

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Hus Kingpin & SmooVth – “Splash Bros” (Splash Bros) – The Hempstead, NY homeboys showcased their undeniable rhyming chemistry on this effortlessly dope EP. Backed by a selection of mellow, melodic soundscapes from the likes of Audible Doctor, J57 and Twiz The Beat Pro, the duo shot straight three-pointers throughout this release, with SmooVth’s sharp barbs and Kingpin’s more ominous flow creating a captivating combination which demonstrated why they’re considered two of the best emcees to have emerged from the East Coast in recent years.

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Dell-P – “A New Beginning” (WhoMag Distribution) – Clearly an emcee with something of substance to say, Philly’s Dell-P packed this lengthy album with plenty of food for thought, touching on a variety of social issues with both maturity and insight. Yet to simply label this Illadelph lyricist as a ‘conscious’ artist would be too easy, with this project proving Peezie to be a truly well-rounded artist, grounded in the traditions of Hip-Hop culture and bringing something genuine to the game.

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OC From NC – “Higher Learning” (OCFromNC.BandCamp.Com) – Bringing his own brand of street knowledge to the forefront on this soulful-yet-rugged album, North Carolina’s OC rhymed like a man with real purpose here, grabbing the listener’s attention with a mix of authority, intelligence and wit. Personal and passionate, “Higher Learning” was quality down-to-earth Hip-Hop that hit you in both the head and the heart.

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Severed Tongue – “Gentle Katharsis” (Inner Peace Records) – A collaborative effort from UK emcees Elliot Fresh and Tang The Pilgrim, “Gentle Katharsis” was a melancholy, meditative listening experience, with the two lyricists delivering poignant self-reflection and absorbing wordplay over solid, and at times moody production from the likes of EarthOne, Said Zu and King Boyden.

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Sean Price – “Songs In The Key Of Price” (Ruck Down Records) – Although this release was neither an official album or EP, as a nod of respect to the late, great Brooklyn emcee, it’s only right that the final mention in Old To The New’s best-of-2015 list goes to Sean P’s  “Songs In The Key Of Price”. Thirty-tracks deep and drenched in grimy New York attitude, this mixtape showcased everything that was brilliant about the Heltah Skeltah member’s unapologetically hardcore approach to his craft. RIP Sean Price!

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100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2015 (Part Two) – Skyzoo / Starvin B / Kingpin etc.

Check Part One here.

Estee Nack & Purpose – “14 Forms: The Book Of Estee Nack” (Ill Adrenaline Records) – Massachusetts microphone fiend Estee Nack joined forces with his Tragic Allies comrade Purpose to craft this shining example of quality underground Hip-Hop. Combining rugged intellect with raw street knowledge, the passionate wordsmith guided listeners through his inner-city world whilst keeping his third-eye wide-open, backed by the melancholy-yet-melodic boom-bap of Purpose.

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Iomos Marad – “Liberation – The Voice EP” (IomosMarad.BandCamp.Com) – In a time when so many artists are satisfied with simply filling their music with shallow, one-dimensional rhymes, veteran Chicago emcee Iomos Marad released this veritable feast of sonic soul food; a life-affirming collection of thoughtful Hip-Hop which sought to motivate, educate and illuminate in equal measures.

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Skyzoo – “Music For My Friends” (First Generation Rich) – Whilst the lyrical content may have differed, the tone of Brooklyn emcee Skyzoo’s third full-length solo project reminded me of Jay-Z’s 1996 classic “Reasonable Doubt”. Drawing on his younger years for inspiration and taking the listener deep into his hopes, dreams and concerns, the gifted artist painted verbal pictures rich in the imagery of inner-city New York, making you feel as if you were sat right there on the album cover’s illustrated stoop, listening to Sky choppin’ it up with his close-knit crew.

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Sparrow The Movement – “The Jacob Theology (Book 1)” (Jamdan Records) – NY-bred, Baltimore-based emcee Fla-Fla balanced religious beliefs and life observations with his undeniable passion for Hip-Hop culture on this brilliantly-executed concept album featuring quality production from The Custodian Of Records, Supreme War Clique and Constant Deviants.

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Cappo & Nappa – “Rebel Base” (KingUnderground Records) – With talented UK producer DJ Nappa digging deep into his crates for a sublime selection of sample material both familiar and obscure, this project from the mighty Cappo further solidified the Nottingham artist’s reputation as one of the most complete emcees in the game, as tracks like “Get Live” and “Elite Marine” overflowed with intricate, laser-precise lyricism.

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Starvin B – “The Foreigner” (Stay Suave Music) – The first of an impressive four projects released by the Queens, NY representative in 2015, “The Foreigner” found Starvin B going global and benefiting from the skillful production of Switzerland’s Sauce Jacqson. Recorded in just one week, the album was not only a testament to the Rotten Apple emcee’s undeniable talent, but also his strong work ethic which manages to balance both quantity and quality.

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Res One – “Delph Efficacy” (SplitProphets.BandCamp.Com) – Split Prophets member Res One’s debut solo album showcased the Bristol resident at his creative best. With a thick cloud of weed smoke hanging over every one of the nineteen tracks on offer here, the UK emcee blessed some of the finest production heard in 2015 from the likes of Badhabitz, Simiah and Evil Ed, ensuring “Delph Efficacy” will still stand as a superior example of British Hip-Hop for years to come.

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Raw Poetic & K-Def – “Cool Convos In Quantum Speech” (Redefinition Records) – Nimble, intelligent wordplay, expert sample-based production and soulful, feel-good vibes made up the sonic foundations of this impressive collaborative project from talented Washington emcee Raw Poetic (of Panacea fame) and veteran New Jersey producer K-Def.

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Heresy – “Heresy” (Polar Entertainment) – Led by UK-raised, US-based Hip-Hop vet Monie Love, this all-female crew (including Dominique Larue, Carolina Dirty and MyVerse) kicked back against today’s mainstream notion of female rappers being all about image-over-talent, demonstrating raw rhyme skills without sacrificing their femininity whilst backed by production from J. Rawls and Black Sheep’s Mista Lawnge.

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Kingpin – “Art Of Survival” (KingpinLondon.BandCamp.Com) – Reflecting the realities of life in inner-city London via genuine insight and personal experience, Kingpin’s second solo album was as much about motivating the minds of those living in the circumstances described throughout this project as it was about opening the eyes of those on the outside looking in. Intelligent street music.

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Planet Asia & DirtyDiggs – “Nautica Nagas” (Gold Chain Music) – West Coast wordsmith Asia is one of those blessed emcees who can honestly claim to have gotten sharper throughout his career, having made the journey from being a student of the game when he debuted back in the late-90s  to becoming a present-day master of the artform. Backed by the production of fellow Left Coast resident DirtyDiggs, this EP found PA delivering his usual brand of seemingly effortless lyricism over instrumentals that ranged from stripped-down and bass-heavy to hypnotic and soulful.

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Figub Brazlevic – “EXPEDITion Vol. 1: From Ghettos To Galaxies” (FigubBrazlevic.BandCamp.Com) – Man Of Booom member Brazlevic provided a truly engrossing listening experience in the form of this flawlessly crafted instrumental album. Soaked in the influences of dusty-fingered 90s East Coast boom-bap, the tracks heard here also found the German producer living up to the project’s title, bringing a jazzy, spaced-out vibe to the proceedings which landed on the right side of experimentation.

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The Mouse Outfit – “Step Steadier” (TheMouseOutfit.BandCamp.Com) – Having carved out their own creative space within the UK Hip-Hop scene with 2013’s “Escape Music” album, Manchester, England’s Mouse Outfit further solidified their reputation for delivering unique homegrown flavour with this follow-up. Once again incorporating a variety of musical influences outside of Hip-Hop, including jazz, soul and reggae, the live band collective enlisted the lyrical talents of emcees such as Sparkz, Verb T and Dr. Syntax to ride the rhythms of their bubbling, organic soundscapes.

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C-Rayz Walz – “ALMIGHTY: The 12 Jewels” (Sun Cycle Industries) – Described by Bronx-raised emcee Walz himself as being “the rhythmic scroll to decode your soul when your third eye zones”, this ambitious Five Percent-influenced project featured a lengthy list of guest emcees, including Oxilla Born, Spit Gemz and Agallah, spitting a relentless barrage of gritty street righteousness over sample-heavy, straight-out-the-basement production. Postive energy activates constant elevation.

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CZARFACE – “Every Hero Needs A Villain” (Brick Records) –  Once again combining their shared passion for Hip-Hop and comic books, Boston’s 7L & Esoteric and Wu-Tang member Inspectah Deck donned their sonic super-hero costumes a second time for this follow-up to their self-titled 2013 project. With allies such as Large Professor, JuJu of The Beatnuts and Meyhem Lauren bringing their own special powers along to battle any rap villainy that stood in their way, the elements of “Every Hero…” came together just like cereal and Saturday morning cartoons.

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Skuff – “Level” (Audio Danger Records) – Delegates Of Culture member Skuff dropped arguably the best project of his career in the form of this succinct eleven-track package of true-school beats and rhymes. Backed by stellar production from DJ Nappa, Leaf Dog and Chairman Maf, the Cambridge-based emcee achieved a good balance between personal reflection and lyrical showmanship here, proving that his love of the mic definitely hasn’t diminished over the years.

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The Deity Complex featuring Unseen – “Supreme Architecture” (The Deity Complex) – Chicago-based producers Supreme Scientist 7, Golden Luohan and Chief Abbot Haderach Wu Mei blessed NY emcee Unseen with a dope selection of unique, jazzy soul-laced beats on this well-executed release. With the Rotten Apple rhymer’s “gold sceptre rap” conjuring up images of subways and street-c0rner ciphers, this EP delivered further proof that there’s always quality Hip-Hop being made in the underground for those who’re prepared to take the time to search for it.

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Arablak – “Fresh Heir – Chapters 1-3” (Arablak.BandCamp.Com) – Released as three separate EPs but intended to be listened to as a complete project, Atlanta-based Arablak’s “Fresh Heir” series found the self-proclaimed “cross between KRS, Common Sense and Fresh Prince” utilising his authoritative flow and drawing on personal experience to deliver a striking collection of intelligent, introspective blue-collar Hip-Hop.

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Cazal Organism – “On My Grown S**t” (Ultra Slump! Records) – With this young LA resident having already gained a cult following for his production, Cazal decided to up the ante by also handling microphone duties on this debut vocal project, dropping charismatic rhymes over an eclectic selection of beats that ranged from space-age boom-bap to dusty-fingered soul loops.

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The BoothBoxers – “The Enigma Code” (BoothBoxers.BandCamp.Com) – Burnley, England trio Seekz, Morgz and DJ Trauma created an uncompromising masterpiece in the form of their “Enigma Code” project. Carrying on tradition by blending vintage Britcore attitude and 90s boom-bap flavour with a now-school perspective, the crew succeeded in crafting an album which simultaneously paid homage to the heritage of UK Hip-Hop whilst still bringing something unique to the table.

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Part Three coming soon.

New Joint – Tek & Figub

Tek & Figub – “3 Wonderers” (@VinylDigital_De / 2015)

London rhymes meet Berlin beats on this piano-laced gem from the duo’s forthcoming album “The Everyday Headnod”.

New Joint – Tek & Figub / Noritsu

Tek & Figub ft. Noritsu – “We Are Hip-Hop” (@VinylDigital_De / 2015)

London-raised lyricist Teknical Development and German producer Figub Brazlevic drop a sublime, uplifting slice of sonic goodness from their upcoming project “The Everday Headnod LP”.

New Joint – Figub Brazlevic

Figub Brazlevic – “The Rising” (@FigubBrazlevic / 2015)

Hypnotic head-nod vibes from the German producer’s new album “Expedition Vol. 1: From Ghettos To Galaxies”.

Expedition Vol. 1: From Ghettos To Galaxies Album Stream – Figub Brazlevic

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German producer Brazlevic unveils a flawless selection of 90s-influenced tracks on this brilliant instrumental project, with the Berlin beat-maker channeling the flavour of vintage Pete Rock, Lord Finesse and Buckwild whilst ensuring his own musical identity can be heard within the jazzy samples and boom-bap drums.

New Joint – Figub Brazlevic / Noritsu

Figub Brazlevic ft. Noritsu – “Survival Of The Flava” (@FigubBrazlevic / 2015)

The German producer blends soulful vocals with boom-bap beats on this track from his forthcoming project “Expedition Vol. 1 – From Ghettos To Galaxies”.

New Joint – Figub Brazlevic / Noritsu / DJ Educut

Figub Brazlevic ft. Noritsu & DJ Educut – “Funky Fresh Copilots” (@FigubBrazlevic / 2015)

Jazzy instrumental vibes from the German producer’s forthcoming project “Expedition Vol. 1: From Ghettos To Galaxies”.

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2014 (Part One) – TPS Fam / Starvin B / Ghostface Killah etc.

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It can’t be denied that 2014 was a great year for quality Hip-Hop. When I initially sat down to start putting together Old To The New’s annual 52 Best Albums & EPs list, it soon became clear that staying with that format would mean having to leave out a large amount of releases that I’ve had in heavy rotation over the last twelve months.

Another reason for wanting to highlight just how many worthwhile albums and EPs dropped in 2014 was to prove a point to those who still insist there just isn’t a notable amount of good music being released today. There are still plenty of talented emcees, deejays and producers across the globe who’re busy in their respective labs, meticulously crafting beats and rhymes in the hope that those of us who say we’re looking for high-standard Hip-Hop will take the time to listen.

As always, by no means am I presenting this as the definitive list of 2014 releases. In today’s internet-era, it’s impossible for anyone to say they’ve heard everything that’s worth listening to. No matter how much time you spend online listening to music, there will always be a dope project out there from someone, somewhere on Planet Rock that you won’t yet have heard of. The search is never-ending.

So, with all that being said, here are the albums and EPs that kept my head nodding throughout 2014…

TPS Fam – “Hot Water Music” (Revorg Records) – Finding creative inspiration in the mundane aspects of the daily grind, Jack Diggs, Big Toast and Strange Neighbour crafted a brilliant, sample-driven soundtrack for the working-class Hip-Hop fan. Balancing dreams and aspirations with day-jobs and overdue bills, the UK trio delivered down-to-earth rhymes with passion and sincerity, encouraging us all to make every day count whilst promoting their motto of “living like kings on a tight budget.”

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Starvin B – “Blood From A Stone” (Goblin Music) – The first of two projects released by the talented Queens, NY resident in 2014, the One-Take-produced “Blood From A Stone” showcased the Rotten Apple rhymer as being a true student of the lyrical arts. Packing his vivid verses with gritty imagery, raw humour and witty wordplay, Starvin B let his personality shine throughout this project, with the likes of Spit Gemz, Tragedy Khadafi and Foul Monday on-hand to fill some well-placed guest spots.

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Ray West & OC – “Ray’s Cafe” (RedApples45) – Proving that true talent really is timeless, two decades after the release of his classic debut album “Word…Life”, Diggin’ In The Crates legend OC teamed-up with Bronx producer Ray West to serve hungry Hip-Hop customers with this appetising platter of flawless lyricism and warm, soulful production. What’s next on the menu?

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Stu Bangas & Blacastan – “Watson & Holmes” (Brutal Music) – Joining forces with producer Stu Bangas, Connecticut emcee Blacastan retained his reputation as one of the rap game’s most consistent artists with the release of this abrasive, hard-hitting album. Backed by Stu’s cinematic, drama-laced beats, the AOTP member delivered his usual high standard of raw rhyming, with brothers-in-arms Esoteric, Vinnie Paz and Apathy each taking a turn to help crush the competition.

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String Theory – “String Theory” (Mic Theory Records) – Breaking the periodic table of poetry down to its very last compound, Florida’s Hex One (of the duo Epidemic) and Swiss producer B.B.Z. Darney came together to “swallow planets and freeze suns”, combining inter-dimensional mic techniques with rocket-fuelled boom-bap beats as they pondered both the laws of the universe and the art of rap.

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DJ JS-1 – “It Is What It Isn’t” (Ground Original) – Veteran NY turntablist and long-standing Rock Steady Crew member JS-1 enlisted the help of a lengthy list of talented lyricists for his fourth collection of underground science. From golden-era icons such as Sadat X, KRS-One and X-Clan’s Brother J, to more recently established wordsmiths like Spit Gemz, Fashawn and Rasheed Chappell, “It Is What It Isn’t” effectively bridged the gap between the old and the new with impressive results.

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Union Blak – “Union Blak Friday” (Effiscienz) – US-born emcee Kimba and UK beatsmith Sir Williams joined forces with France’s Effiscienz label to deliver a solid, succinct debut album. Demonstrating their shared passion for Hip-Hop with positive, upbeat rhymes and melodic production, the duo made it clear throughout “Union Blak Friday” that their aim is to add on to the culture rather than simply take from it.

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J-Live – “Around The Sun” (Mortier Music) – There may not be anything new under the sun, but there’s still plenty of quality music to be found. Case in point, veteran NY-raised, ATL-based emcee J-Live’s seventh album release, which found the accomplished wordsmith delivering the clever, intelligent lyricism fans have come to rely on him for over production from Oddisee, Audible Doctor and DJ Spinna.

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Souls Of Mischief / Adrian Younge – “There Is Only Now” (Linear Labs) – A concept album set in 1994 involving jealous emcees, kidnapping and revenge, “There Is Only Now” found the Souls Of Mischief members weaving intricate, story-telling rhymes around the live, drum-heavy musicianship of the talented Adrian Younge, resulting in an epic Hip-Hop tale  which contained more drama than an episode of “The Wire”.

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Es – “Aspire To Inspire” (Essenchill Records) – Inviting everyone along on his quest for self-improvement, Canadian emcee Es’s second full-length project lived up to its lofty title in no uncertain terms. Packed with full-bodied production and uplifting rhymes about everything from fatherhood and relationships to self-worth and striving to maintain a positive mental attitude, it was near impossible to play this album and not feel better about life whilst listening.

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Skyzoo & Torae – “Barrel Brothers” (First Generation Rich / Internal Affairs) – Self-confessed “products of Albee Square Mall” and Brooklyn-based brothers-from-other-mothers, Skyzoo and Torae came together to create one of the best examples of pure emceeing you were likely to hear in 2014. With bold deliveries and painstakingly well-crafted verses, the two BK lyricists sparred with each other over heavyweight production from the likes of Illmind and DJ Premier, each proving why their place among NY’s long line of noteworthy mic controllers is well-deserved. No frills, just skills.

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Figub Brazlevic – “Train Yards” (FigubBrazlevic.BandCamp.Com) – Having already demonstrated his undeniable production skills via his work with the Man Of Booom crew, this instrumental EP release from Berlin’s Brazlevic blended head-nodding beats with jazzy samples and well-placed vocal snippets, creating a spell-binding project with plenty of musical depth and soul.

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Confidence Presents… – “Confidence Presents GDot & Born Featuring Edo.G” (Audible Con Records) – Building on his already strong reputation as one of today’s most consistent producers, the talented Confidence orchestrated this true-school gem of an album which bridged the gap between the Boston Hip-Hop scene’s past and present. Relative newcomers GDot & Born shared mic time with Beantown vet Edo.G throughout this project, with all three emcees delivering positive messages mixed with b-boy bravado over Confidence’s quality brand of crisp, boom-bap beats.

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Parallax – “Depth Perception” (ParallaxOfficialStore.BandCamp.Com) – The upcoming UK artist proved he’s as nice behind the boards as he is behind the microphone with the release of this succinct, largely self-produced EP. Utilising solid drums and dusty samples, Parallax waxed lyrical about a number of topics, dropping punchline-heavy food-for-thought on the state of Hip-Hop, media manipulation and the British justice system. Mental stamina, indeed.

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Prince Po & Oh No – “Animal Serum” (Wandering Worx / Green Streets Entertainment) – Staying true to his claim of “having a lotta jewels, but don’t gotta wear a chain”, Organized Konfusion’s Prince Po administered a new brand of musical medicine to the Hip-Hop faithful with the welcome assistance of West Coast producer Oh No. Tackling a number of modern-day issues with typically dense, multi-layered lyricism, Po succeeded in soothing the suffering of all free-thinkers who find themselves trapped inside the Matrix.

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Early Reed & J Scienide – “The Dose (The MFN Files)” (J-Scienide.BandCamp.Com) – Whilst putting the finishing touches to his own impressive 2014 releases, Low Budget’s Kev Brown found time to get behind this EP from his two fellow Washington D.C.-based crew members. With Reed demonstrating his mastery of the SP and Scienide proving himself to be a formidable talent on the mic, “The Dose (The MFN Files)” gave listeners a potent shot of pure Hip-Hop.

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Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – “Pinata” (Madlib Invazion) – Arguably the greatest mix of raw gangsta rhymes and dope breaks since Brad Jordan joined forces with the Rap-A-Lot production squad for his 1991 debut solo album, Gary, Indiana native Gibbs’ drawling delivery sounded right at home over Madlib’s range of random sample material, resulting in an album that covered a variety of moods, from the soothing and laidback to the dramatic and urgent. Witness the strength of street knowledge.

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Akrobatik – “Built To Last” (Playaktion Recordings) – Returning to the rap game after surviving emergency heart surgery in 2011, the title of Boston veteran Akrobatik’s third full-length solo album was as much a statement about enduring personal struggle as it was a comment on his forthright approach to his craft. Balancing content which covered his near-death experience, social commentary and Hip-Hop politics, Ak firmly stood up for his personal principles at a time when so many other artists are busy chasing trends and trying desperately to please the masses.

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Divine – “Ghetto Rhymin'” (Supreme Records) – Mixing Five Percent terminology with the influence of Rakim and a proud New York state of mind, Brooklyn’s Divine proved himself to be a true product of his environment on his latest project, taking it back to a time when Rotten Apple wordsmiths were more concerned with capturing the essence of the five boroughs in their music rather than allowing their sound to be shaped by outside forces.

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Ghostface Killah – “36 Seasons” (Tommy Boy Entertainment) – Fresh from 2013’s “Twelve Reasons To Die” collabo with Adrian Younge, the Wally Champ dove straight into another concept-based project with “36 Seasons”. Based around a story-line that was part 70s blaxploitation flick, part Marvel comic book territory, Ghost was joined by Brooklyn’s AZ and the legendary K00l G. Rap, weaving action-packed tales of love, drama and betrayal over the classic vintage soul thump of NY band The Revelations.

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Part Two coming soon.

New Joint – Dynasty / Skyzoo

Dynasty ft. Skyzoo – “Star And The Sky – Remix” (@YaGirlDynasty / 2015)

Berlin’s Figub Brazlevic reworks this track from the Queens, NY-raised emcee’s 2013 album “A Star In Life’s Clothing”.

Train Yards EP Stream – Figub Brazlevic

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Man Of Booom producer Figub Brazlevic’s latest instrumental release finds the Berlin-based sound provider delivering eight tracks of sublime mood music, ranging from the hazy head-nod soul of “Arrival” to the upbeat floor-work-friendly “Anno Rock Steady”.

Keats Vol. 1 Album Stream – Figub Brazlevic

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Germany’s Man Of Booom producer Figub Brazlevic delivers a sublime collection of jazzy, drum-driven cuts on his “Keats Vol. 1” instrumental release.

New Joint – Man Of Booom

Man Of Booom – “Melody Spells” (@ManOfBooom / 2014)

Berlin / London / New Orleans trio of Figub Brazlevic, Teknical Development and JuJu Rogers drop a dense dose of dopeness from their 2013 album “Back To The Booom”.