Tag Archives: Let It Go

52 Best Albums & EPs Of 2012 (Part One) – Roc Marciano / Mystro / House Shoes etc.

vinyl rack pic

With 2012 almost out the door, it’s about that time for magazines, websites and blogs to take the customary look back over the last twelve months to highlight those releases most worthy of recognition for really hitting the sonic bullseye during the course of the year.

Whilst the usual debates concerning the state of Hip-Hop have continued to rage on street corners, social media sites and everywhere else music fans may congregate, inbetween the vast amount of mediocre and downright terrible music that’s come from the mainstream / underground rap worlds during 2012, there’s also been a decent number of impressive album and EP releases from various corners of Planet Rock which have all delivered in terms of quality, creativity and overall dopeness.

As I always say when putting a list like this together, the projects and artists included in this 2012 round-up aren’t the only names and releases that were worth checking over the last year, but they are the ones that spent the most time booming out of my headphones and speakers.

So, in no particular order…

Roc Marciano – “Reloaded” (Decon) – With the release of 2010’s “Marcberg” album transforming Strong Island’s Roc Marciano from respected underground emcee to Hip-Hop cult hero, the former UN member refined his Rotten Apple sound even further on this sophomore solo shot, delivering a relentless barrage of vivid wordplay over melodic, minimalist production.

roc marci cover

Nas – “Life Is Good” (Def Jam) – Arguably Queensbridge’s favourite son’s most cohesive and consistent body of work since 1994’s timeless “Illmatic”. Nas might not have chalked-up another universal classic with his latest album, but he did sound more comfortable in his own skin on this project than he has done in a long time, as he reminisced about 90s New York, dealt with parental responsibility and reflected on his recent marriage problems.

nas cover 1

Mystro – “Mystrogen” (Don’t Bizznizz) – Having started 2012 amidst rumours of retirement, veteran London emcee MysDiggi laid any such talk to rest with the release of his long-awaited debut full-length, lacing a varied selection of up-beat production from the likes of Mr. Thing and Black Einstein with his witty verses, leftfield life observations and sharp humour.

mystro pic 3

DJ Premier & Bumpy Knuckles – “Kolexxxion” (Gracie Productions / Works Of Mart) – The infamous Freddie Foxxx teaming-up with hardcore composer DJ Premier for a full-length project was always going to result in something memorable and “Kolexxxion” definitely lived up to expectations. Bumpy proudly displayed his OG stripes, schooling upcoming artists on the rules of the game and giving his opinion on the state of the culture, whilst Premier crafted an impeccable selection of thoroughbred bangers tough enough to crack concrete.

kolexxxion cover

Keith Science – “Vessels Of Thought Volume II” (Central Wax Records) – A polished collection of instrumentals from the New Jersey-based producer, this album encompassed a number of different musical vibes and emotions, ranging from jazzy optimism to aggressive boom-bap, with each track maintaining its own unique sonic personality thanks to Science’s mastery of true-school Hip-Hop production.

keith science cover

Apollo Brown & OC – “Trophies” (Mello Music Group) – Having built himself a solid reputation as the go-to man for drum-heavy underground production, Detroit’s Apollo Brown tested his talents to the limit by joining forces with legendary D.I.T.C. emcee OC, resulting in a quality concept-driven album full of head-nodding beats and lyrical jewels that contained enough creative chemistry to make the uninitiated think the pair had been recording together for years.

trophies cover

Timeless Truth – “Brugal & Presidentes” (Timeless Truth) – Steeped in Rotten Apple heritage, Queens, NY brothers Solace and Oprime39 paid homage to their city’s traditional boom-bap sound on this EP unleashed at the top of 2012 without sounding like they were simply chasing the musical ghosts of a lost era. The duo’s intense, sample-heavy style and ferocious verbal artillery kept heads salivating all year for the release of their recent full-length “Rock-It Science”.

timeless truth ep

Del The Funky Homosapien & Parallel Thought – “Attractive Sin” (Parallel Thought Ltd) – Ice Cube’s cousin has faced criticism in recent times for being just a little too off-the wall on some of his solo material, but whether it was a conscious decision or just natural creativity, on this Parallel Thought-produced project the Hiero emcee sounded more focused than he has in a long time. Backed by beats ranging from anthemic West Coast funk (“On Momma’s House”) to breakbeat-driven old-school flavour (“1520 Sedgewick”), Del delivered a potent lession in lyrical excellence that recalled the brilliance of his early critically-acclaimed work.

del album cover

DJ Format – “Statement Of Intent” (Project Blue Book) – A rejuvenated Format returned to burn on his third album, pulling together musical influences that ranged from old-school New York block parties and 80s electro to golden-era greatness, creating a diverse but ultimately-satisfying musical mosaic featuring the likes of Edan, Mr. Lif and Phill Most Chill holding down microphone duties. An entertaining sonic journey back to the future.

dj format cover

House Shoes – “Let It Go” (Tres Records) – A close friend of the late, great Dilla and a talented producer in his own right, Detroit’s House Shoes pulled together an impressive line-up of Motown talent such as Black Milk and Guilty Simpson plus a few out-of-towners (Roc Marciano, The Alchemist etc) to ensure his official debut album was something to remember. Clearly feeling he had something to prove to the non-believers out there, “Let It Go” wasn’t just the sound of a producer putting together a typical compilation-style album, this was the sound of a man on a musical mission.

house shoes album cover

Ryan Proctor

Part Two coming soon.

New Joint – House Shoes / Jimetta Rose

House Shoes ft. Jimetta Rose – “Castles” (Tres Records / 2012)

Soulful vibes from the Detroit producer’s recent album “Let It Go”.

New Joint – House Shoes / Big Tone

House Shoes ft. Big Tone – “Time” (Tres Records / 2012)

Taken from the Detroit producer’s impressive album “Let It Go” which also features Roc Marciano, Guilty Simpson, Black Milk and more.

Album Review – House Shoes

House Shoes

“Let It Go”

(Tres Records)

A longstanding influence in the Detroit Hip-Hop scene, close friend of the late, great J. Dilla and a talented producer in his own right, Motown’s House Shoes is already something of a legend in his own time. From releasing hometown emcee Phat Kat’s classic “Dedication To The Suckers” single on his own indie label in the late-90s to more recently acting as tour deejay for the likes of Black Milk and Elzhi, House Shoes’ limitless passion for Detroit music and his desire to see local talent exposed has led to his name becoming synonymous with quality D-Town beats and rhymes, whether he’s playing them, tweeting about them, or making them himself.

“Let It Go”, House Shoes’ debut release for Los-Angeles-based imprint Tres, has been a long time coming, a project that both fans and no doubt the Midwest native himself have been desperate to see drop. An opportunity for House Shoes to fully showcase his production skills, draw attention to underground Detroit artists and also work with established figures from across the US, “Let It Go” sounds like the producer is doing just that, exhaling years of hard-work, struggle and determination throughout the eighteen-track set.

The main strength of this is album is that, irrespective of the long list of featured artists, as producer, it remains House Shoes’ project at all times. The main problem with many producer-led albums is that the individual behind the boards can sometimes appear overwhelmed by the diversity of styles brought to the table by their rhyming counterparts, leading to a producer bending their trademark sound to fit featured guests, which can result in nothing more than a patchy compilation rather than a cohesive body of work guided by the direction of one musical mind.

The sonic personality of House Shoes, however, is stamped all over “Let It Go” and is strong enough to constantly remain the driving force behind the project. No matter who’s on the mic, it’s House Shoes’ quality production that remains the primary focus of each track.

The instrumental “Empire / Get Down” officially begins proceedings, a melodic blend of swirling synths and knocking drums that builds into a stirring symphony of epic, bass-heavy brilliance, creating a feeling that the listener is on the verge of hearing something monumental as the remainder of the album unfolds.

After the ethereal vibes of that opening track, the Moe Dirtee-assisted “Goodfellas To Bad Boys” drags the project straight back into the streets of Detroit, with the upcoming emcee delivering gritty-but-witty gangsta rhymes over cinematic production that brings with it an atmosphere of drama and urgency. The subtle “Dirt” (featuring The Alchemist, Oh No and Roc Marciano) is built around a muffled bassline that sounds like it was recorded through a wall from the studio next door, with NY’s Marcberg dropping one of the best verses on the album, rhyming himself into a syllable-crazed frenzy with his usual mix of vividly rugged street observations and delicate wordplay.

The sparse “Crazy” features Black Milk and Guilty Simpson combining forces with House Shoes to create another certified Motor City banger, whilst the short-but-effective “Everything (Modern Family)” finds Fatt Father navigating the complexities of a broken relationship over a simple, string-laden soul loop that injects further emotion into the lyricist’s sincere rhymes.

St. Louis artist Black Spade delivers a brilliant performance on the effortlessly dope “Sunrise”, searching for success and enlightenment over hypnotic jazzy vibes and rolling drums expertly chopped by House Shoes (“Wanna be in the place where they like ‘Black Spade run it’, Like when Biggie was on The Source awards saying ‘Brooklyn we done it'”).

“Castles (The Sky Is Ours)”, the previously-released dedication to House Shoes’ friend J1, takes the album in an unexpected-but-welcome direction, a heartfelt track featuring vocalist Jimetta Rose turning the tragedy of losing loved ones into beautiful music, using memories of good times shared as inspiration to push on through life and honour those no longer with us.

It’s not overly dramatic to say that you can literally hear the heart and soul of House Shoes seeping through the beats of every track on “Let It Go”. His ability to work easily with artists as varied as the unpredictable Danny Brown and animated Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 fame without losing any of his own style and musical approach is evidence of both his vision and talent as a producer.

A definite triumph, “Let It Go” is a strong release that should finally see House Shoes being given the same well-deserved exposure he’s fought so hard to see other Detroit artists experience over the years. Salute!

Ryan Proctor

House Shoes ft. Nottz, Oh No & MED – “Last Breath” (Tres Records / 2012)

From Detroit To LA – House Shoes

In preparation for the release of his forthcoming album “Let It Go”, this mini-documentary features Detroit legend and talented producer House Shoes discussing his musical history.

 

New Joint – House Shoes / Nottz / Oh No / MED

House Shoes ft. Nottz, Oh No & MED – “Last Breath” (Tres Records / 2012)

Heavy beat science from the Detroit legend’s forthcoming album “Let It Go”.

The Makings Pt. 2 Mixtape Download – House Shoes

In preparation for the Detroit legend’s forthcoming album “Let It Go” the crew at Tres Records have compiled this second collection of previous House Shoes-produced tracks from Elzhi, Quelle Chris, MarvWon and more – peep it here.