Tag Archives: King Draft

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2018 (Part Two) – Kamanchi Sly / Ocean Wisdom / Westside Gunn etc.

Check Part One here.

K-Sly – “Me And My SP” (KamanchiSly.Com) – Kamanchi Sly is a legend and pioneer of the UK Hip-Hop scene, but the Hijack emcee hasn’t been prepared to simply rest on his laurels, with “Me And My SP” being the London mic vet’s third album in six months at the time of its release in May 2018. A rambunctious mix of true-school attitude, classic breaks and raw rhymes, this release was powered by the undeniable and infectious energy generated by Sly’s unwavering love for the culture of Hip-Hop.

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Crimeapple & Big Ghost Ltd – “Aguardiente” (GourmetDeluxxx.BandCamp.Com) – Backed by the dramatic and ominous production of the mighty Big Ghost (Ankhlejohn, Ghostface Killah etc), New Jersey’s Crimeapple demonstrated throughout this project why he has grown to become one of the most revered rhymers of rap’s new generation, with a sneering confidence in his rugged verses that evoke images of the bearded lyricist holding the mic in one hand and a wack emcee by the scruff of his neck in the other.

Poisonous Diggs – “Volume 84” (IAmKillaKali.BandCamp.Com) – A short-but-effective barrage of fly beats and razor-sharp rhymes from the Gold Chain Music / Poison Ring Regime camp, this collaborative EP from Dirty Diggs and Killa Kali was the type of Hip-Hop that made you screw your face up, adopt an old-school arms-folded b-boy pose  and pledge allegiance to the culture in no uncertain terms.

Big Toast & Jack Diggs – “Call It On” (RevorgRecords.BandCamp.Com) – Opening with the line “I don’t want to listen to your whinging…”, it was clear from the outset that this project from South London blood brothers Toast and Diggs wasn’t about pandering to the masses, with the pair instead offering blunt insight into modern-day life, taking verbal shots at the self-righteous of the world with a heavy dose of  acidic wit and quality self-produced boom-bap beats.

Raashid Aariz – “Knowledge, Wisdom & Understanding” (RaashidAariz19.BandCamp.Com) – Virginia-based producer Raashid Aariz delivered music to meditate to on this refined instrumental project, mixing his love of soul and jazz with the influence of 90s Hip-Hop, ranging from mellow, late-night electric relaxation vibes to sax-heavy, Wu-Tang-sampling workouts.

Ocean Wisdom – “Wizville” (HighFocus.BandCamp.Com) – An artistic triumph in every sense of the term, this sophomore project from Brighton’s Ocean Wisdom confidently blended genres, bridged generation gaps and cracked the Official UK Album Charts in the process (a massive achievement for an independent homegrown Hip-Hop artist). Easily holding his own on tracks with long-established artists such as Rodney P, Method Man and Dizzee Rascal, Wisdom’s clever, rapid-fire rhymes shone throughout. Welcome to Wizville, indeed.

AG – “The Taste Of AMbrosia” (AGofDITC.BandCamp.Com) – Diggin’ In The Crates member Andre The Giant has remained consistent on wax for almost thirty years now, with the NY emcee managing to balance his old-school Bronx rap roots here with a desire to step forward artistically and not simply retread old ground. “The Taste…” was the sound of a legacy artist who is as passionate about his craft today as he was when he first picked a mic up all those years ago.

Philmore Greene – “Chicago: A Third World City” (PhilmoreGreene.BandCamp.Com) – Talented emcee Philmore Greene took listeners on a sonic tour around his Windy City stomping grounds on this captivating, hard-hitting project, tackling the impact of street violence, social conditions and politics on the people of Chicago, with the soulful soundscapes of Rashid Hadee adding further poignancy to the lyricist’s earnest, heartfelt verses.

Royalz – “Live 95” (GrhymeProductions.BandCamp.Com) – As its title suggests, this well-crafted project from Australian producer Royalz wore its 90s influences on its sonic sleeve, with the likes of SmooVth, Conway and Dialect blessing a strong selection of raw-yet-refined beats.

Rome Streetz & Farma Beats – “Street Farmacy” (RomeStreetz.BandCamp.Com) –  This transatlantic collaboration from NY emcee Rome Streetz and London producer Farma Beats supplied Hip-Hop fiends with plenty of that uncut dope, as grimy, project-building poetry was laid over an eclectic collection of samples and loops.

Dabbla – “Death Moves” (PotentFunkRecords.BandCamp.Com) – Another blazing display of rhyming agility from Dabbla, this follow-up to 2016’s “Year Of The Monkey” album further cemented the UK emcee’s reputation as a naturally gifted talent, with the Problem Child member putting a lyrical leash on a wide-ranging selection of beats, from futuristic, bass-heavy wave twisters to straight-up, sample-based head-nodders.

Westside Gunn – “Supreme Blientele” (Grisleda / Daupe.BandCamp.Com) – The Griselda Records family continued to stamp their dominance on the rap game throughout 2018, with this immediate cult classic from Gunn just one of a handful of quality releases from the camp over the past twelve months. Backed by heavy-hitting producers such as Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, Alchemist and (of course) frequent collaborator Daringer, WG masterfully utilised his distinctive delivery to offer more of his captivating insight and perspective on both the street life and the rap game.

Napoleon Da Legend & Giallo Point – “Coup D’Etat” (FXCKRXP.BandCamp.Com) – It’s always good to hear a full project from an emcee and producer who are truly on the same page creatively. This release from NYC’s NDL and the UK’s Giallo Point definitely hit that mark. Clever, intricate, street-savvy rhymes were coupled here with smooth, atmospheric production, resulting in an album that sounded both familiar and individual at the same time.

K Zorro – “Winnie’s Passion / Bernard’s Legacy” (NewGuardzOnline.BandCamp.Com) – With so much of today’s popular culture dominated by image, hype and empty posturing, it’s always refreshing to hear music from an artist who appears determined to genuinely let the listener into their world, capturing life’s struggles, hopes and regrets along the way. Enter London-based emcee K Zorro with this well-crafted album, which found the New Guardz member getting up-close-and-personal as he spilt his soul over the fourteen tracks on offer here.

Da Flyy Hooligan – “Roman Abramovich” (GourmetDeluxxx.BandCamp.Com) – Possessing a moniker that truly captures his lyrical approach, London’s Da Flyy Hooligan effortlessly elbowed his way through the stripped-down-yet-sublime production of D’Lux Beats on this short-but-satisfying EP. Offering both style and substance, DFH once again proved himself to be a formidable force in the microphone booth.

IceRocks – “Live From The Bunker” (IceRocksDXA.BandCamp.Com) – Following up his 2016 instrumental project “Bunker Beats”, DXA producer IceRocks once again showcased his dope brand of NY boom-bap throughout this album, adding some talented lyricists into the mix this time around, with the likes of AG Da Coroner, Meyhem Lauren and Spit Gemz lending lyrical support. A project best listened to whilst wearing Timberlands and a hoodie.

C.A.M – “Persian Rugs” (CAMOfficial.BandCamp.Com) – The London-based emcee followed-up his impressive 2017 EP “The First Move” with this second collection of sharp, intelligent lyricism superbly produced by Hashfinger. Combining a quick-fire delivery with an attention-grabbing vocal tone able to penetrate a beat like a razor-blade through rice paper , C.A.M’s latest project was immediately captivating, demanding to be revisited again and again.

King Draft – “Two Eyes” (KingDraftMusic.BandCamp.Com) – As both a member of The Kingdom and a solo artist in his own right, King Draft has been on my radar since 2014. The talented North Carolina-based artist added to his already impressive catalogue with this ambitious release, an eclectic blend of organic live instrumentation and concept-driven lyricism.

Vic Spencer & Sonnyjim – “Spencer For Hire” (Eat Good Records / GourmetDeluxxx.BandCamp.Com) – Chicago’s Vic Spencer joined forces with the UK’s Sonnyjim to drop this smoothed-out selection of lo-fi liveness, featuring Quelle Chris, Hus Kingpin and Chris Crack. Spencer’s swaggering, self-assured steez meshed perfectly with Sonnyjim’s supreme stash of soundtrack-style loops.

EvillDewer – “Apocrypha” (EvillDewer.BandCamp.Com) – Boston-based producer and self-proclaimed Crown Chakra Rocka EvillDewer showcased his musical imagination on this instrumental project, steering clear of typical boom-bap beats and pushing his creative boundaries, drawing the listener deep into an intricately-crafted collection of inspired, sample-driven soundscapes.

Part Three coming soon,

New Joint – King Draft / Kelly Kale

King Draft ft. Kelly Kale – “Make Sen$e” (@KingDraftMusic / 2018)

Contemplative rhymes and soulful Jerm Scorsese production from the North Carolina-based artist’s “Two Eyes” project.

Two Eyes EP Stream – King Draft

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Talented North Carolina-based artist King Draft adds to his already impressive catalogue with this ambitious release, an eclectic blend of organic live instrumentation and captivating, concept-driven lyricism.

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2016 (Part Two) – Vinnie Paz / REKS / Ras Beats etc.

Check Part One here.

LEX – “Necessary” (LEXNYRE.BandCamp.Com) – This project from Queens, NY wordsmith LEX was an album rooted in the proud heritage of true-school Rotten Apple rap which effectively showcased the talented emcee’s dedication to both his craft and the culture of Hip-Hop.

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Ray Vendetta  & Calvert – “Calculated Vendettaz” (RayOfLight.BandCamp.Com) – Triple Darkness member Ray Vendetta joined forces with talented London-based producer Calvert for this brilliantly-executed example of intelligent, hardcore Hip-Hop. Packed with potent lyricism that ranged from the gritty to the humorous to the inspirational, “Calculated Vendettaz” captured the natural chemistry between Ray’s accomplished wordplay and Calvert’s sample-based beats, with features from UK heavyweights such as Iron Braydz, Tesla’s Ghost and Skriblah DanGogh.

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ChrisJay – “The Day She Ran Away” (ChrisJayOnline.BandCamp.Com) – Canada’s ChrisJay delivered personal, heartfelt rhymes with a captivating blend of strength and vulnerability on this thoroughly engaging  EP produced by Die-Rek and Cream Of Beats.

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Vinnie Paz – “The Cornerstone Of The Corner Store” (Enemy Soil) – The third solo album from Jedi Mind Tricks front-man Vinnie Paz offered more gritty half-righteous, half-foul anthems from the Philly emcee,  with production supplied by the likes of Buckwild, C-Lance and Psycho Les providing the project with an uncompromisingly hardcore sonic backbone.

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Cryptic One – “The World According To…” (CrypticOne.BandCamp.Com) – The former Atoms Family member showcased his razor-sharp wordplay and worldly wit over a dope selection of self-produced beats on this succinct effort.

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Killer Ben & Twiz The Beat Pro – “Invincible Ben” (DrumsetMusicWorks.BandCamp.Com) – This project from Durag Dynasty’s Killer Ben was one of the finest examples of quality lyricism you were likely to hear this year, as the West Coast-based wordsmith pounded Twiz’s impressive production with a non-stop barrage of high-velocity verbals.

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Shay D – “A Figure Of Speech” (ShayD.BandCamp.Com) – Inbetween co-hosting a radio show on London’s Itch FM, running youth workshops and organizing live events, UK emcee Shay D found time to release this well-crafted project, powerfully combining social commentary, personal experience and artistic passion with striking results.

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Common – “Black America Again” (Def Jam / ARTium) – Sounding determined, defiant and, perhaps most importantly, more focussed creatively than he has done in recent years, Chicago vet Common dropped this timely album inspired by the racial, political and social turmoil which dominated the US throughout 2016. Striking a balance between realism and optimism, this was music with a message which proved in no uncertain terms that the Windy City emcee still loves H.E.R.

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REKS – “The Greatest X” (Brick Records) – With nothing on this epic 35-track project that could honestly be described as “throwaway”, Massachusetts microphone fiend REKS largely succeeded in conquering the double-album format which even icons such as 2Pac and Biggie struggled with. An endless stream of passionately-delivered verses paired with well-chosen production (Large Professor, Statik Selektah, Nottz etc) ensured the listener’s attention was maintained at all times. Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme, indeed.

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OC From NC – “The Second Renaissance” (OCFromNC.BandCamp.Com) – Following-up 2015’s impressive “Higher Learning” project, North Carolina’s OC once again called on the services of production partner B Squared for “The Second Renaissance”, a quality combination of intelligent lyricism and soul-drenched boom-bap.

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Ras Beats – “Control Your Own” (Worldwyde Recordings) – Featuring appearances from the likes of A.G., Roc Marciano and Sadat X, this project from NYC’s Ras Beats  was a strong outing from a gifted producer who clearly wanted to add on to the legacy of traditional New York boom-bap rather than simply try to recreate what had come before him.

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Soundsci – “Walk The Earth” (Global Expo) – The mighty Soundsci crew went global on their third full-length release, with the transatlantic troop once again delivering a fine selection of funky, intelligent Hip-Hop grounded in a genuine shared desire to help push the culture forward to a better place.

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Beneficence – “Basement Chemistry” (Ill Adrenaline Records) – New Jersey representative and Ill Adrenaline co-founder Beneficence took it back to the golden-era with this solid boom-bap-driven album featuring appearances and production from the likes of Masta Ace, Chubb Rock, Da Beatminerz and more.

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Ron Jon Bovi – “Neaux Mursi” (Elevation Nation) – Satisfying the appetite of lyric lovers everywhere across Planet Rock, this Unjust-produced collabo album from Hieroglyphics member Casual and Detroit’s Phat Kat found the pair sharing a chemistry that suggested the two lyricists had been rhyming together for years instead of merely the time it took to put this release together.

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Loopwhole Beats – “Newyorkism II” (LoopwholeBeats.BandCamp.Com) – Atmospheric, 90s-influenced boom-bap from the NY producer featuring appearances from Brainsick Mob, Roc Marciano and Eastkoast.

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The Cornel West Theory – “The T.A.B.L.E.” (TheCornelWestTheory.BandCamp.Com) – The Washington D.C. crew quickly followed-up their impressive 2015 opus “Coming From The Bottom” with an equally rewarding and intense listening experience in the form of “The T.A.B.L.E.”. Powered by a revolutionary spirit and anti-establishment attitude, this album went against the grain both sonically and lyrically, with the end product sounding all the better for it.

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Libretto – “Gangsta Jazz Volume Two” (Liquid Beat) – As its title suggested, this long-player from Liquid Beat Records found the Watts, Los Angeles-raised Libretto mixing street-related rhymes with melodic loops, resulting in a project which boasted a throwback feel without getting lost in nostalgia.

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King Draft – “Live Forever” (TheKingdomMusic.BandCamp.Com) – Effortlessly blending classic influences with contemporary flavours, North Carolina-based emcee King Draft delivered clever wordplay and verses of substance over the accomplished production of fellow Kingdom member Jerm Scorsese throughout this solo project.

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Mr. Kinetik – “The Colors” (MrKinetik.BandCamp.Com) – Indianapolis-based artist Mr. Kinetik dropped dusty jazz vibes and intricate rhymes on this short-yet-impressive self-produced EP.

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DSOTM – “The Echo Chamber” (DSOTM.BandCamp.Com) – Menace Mendoza, FlowTecs, Joey Menza and the rest of seven-man crew Dark Side Of The Moon spat raw rhymes over atmospheric production from the likes of Beat Butcha and Ringz Ov Saturn on this uncompromisingly hardcore UK opus.

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Part Three coming soon.

 

Live Forever Album Stream – King Draft

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Effortlessly blending classic influences with contemporary flavours, North Carolina-based emcee King Draft delivers intelligent wordplay and verses of substance over the accomplished production of fellow Kingdom member Jerm Scorsese.

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.

Kingdom Come Album Stream – The Kingdom

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