Tag Archives: Lisaan’dro

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2019 (Part One) – Roc Marciano / Nems / Jeff Smith etc.

Every year this ‘best-of’ list becomes increasingly harder to put together, with 2019 possibly having been the most challenging round-up to compile yet. Not because there haven’t been enough worthy projects released over the past twelve months, but because there has potentially been too many!

I initially sat down with a list of approximately three hundred albums and EPs that had dropped this year which I felt deserved to be considered. Three hundred??!! After plenty of deliberation and arguments with myself, I finally managed to get that list down to the one hundred releases you’ll find featured in this five-part 2019 overview.

Of course, there are going to be artists not included who some heads will feel should have been. That’s the beauty of music – everyone has their own opinion. But if a particular album or EP hasn’t been mentioned, that shouldn’t lead anyone to automatically assume I didn’t rate that project at all. As previously stated, I started with three hundred releases. When scaling that list down I had to really just consider which albums and EPs I’d enjoyed the most. It was as simple as that. No politics. No favours. Just the thoughts of a lifelong fan of beats and rhymes.

As always, huge props to all the talented artists out there (whether included in this list or not) who put their time, effort and creative energy into making music that adds something of value to this incredible culture called Hip-Hop.

Now, like we always do about this time….

Roc Marciano – “Marcielago” (RocMarci.Com) – As one of the most influential artists of the last decade it’s fitting that ten years after the release of “Marcberg”, an album that made an indelible impact on the sound of underground Hip-Hop, Strong Island’s Roc Marci would book-end his incredible run of releases with a project that further solidified his position in the game. Once again proving himself to be a master of his craft (both lyrically and musically),  the NY favourite fused vivid, larger-than-life rhymes with smooth, atmospheric (largely self-produced) beats and loops. Cinematic mood music best heard late at night in a haze of weed smoke.

 

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Nems – “Gorilla Monsoon” (Lyfer Gang) – Brooklyn emcee Nems is no newcomer, having released a string of projects over the past fifteen years. But on this album, the Mayor Of Coney Island appeared to capture Hip-Hop lightning in a bottle, elevating his skills to new heights in the process. Backed by the masterful production of fellow BK resident Jazzsoon, whose beats thumped harder than a heavyweight boxer working a punch-bag, Nems paid homage to the traditional Rotten Apple sound without getting caught up in nostalgia, delivering rhymes that ranged from aggressive, competition-crushing bars to brutally personal and honest life stories. Powerful music.

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Joker Starr – “G.A.W.D.” (FlukeBeatMusic.BandCamp.Com) – The irrepressible UK artist made a welcome return at the beginning of the year with another quality collection of unrestrained lyricism to add to his catalogue, at times sounding about ready to burst out of the speakers like a Hip-Hop Hulk. Largely produced by Micall Parknsun (with input from Anyway Tha God and OphQi), the UK wordsmith mixed social commentary and Black pride with larger-than-life emcee bravado throughout this entertaining showcase of raw hardcore talent.

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Vic Spencer & Sonnyjim – “Spencer For Higher 2” (Daupe Media) – Chicago’s Vic Spencer delivered slick wit and smooth arrogance over sublime production from the UK’s Sonnyjim on this sequel to the pair’s original 2018 “Spencer For Higher” project. A naturally gifted emcee, Spencer dominated the beats and loops on offer here with seemingly effortless skill, sharing a creative chemistry with Sonnyjim that lent the project a satisfyingly seamless and organic feel.

Funky DL – “Life After Dennison” (FunkyDL.BandCamp.Com) – Following on from 2018’s “Dennison Point” project, which captured Funky DL’s memories and experiences between 1992 and 2005 as a resident of Stratford, East London, “Life After Dennison” found the multi-talented UK artist bringing listeners up-to-date with his personal journey in his inimitable warm and witty style, accompanied by his jazzy and soulful trademark production sound.

Pitch 92 – “3rd Culture” (HighFocus.Com) – An album of epic proportions, this project from Pitch 92 fully showcased the Manchester music man’s range as a producer, incorporating Hip-Hop, jazz and soul influences into one smooth and cohesive listening experience, featuring a long list of top-tier UK talent including Jehst, MysDiggi and DRS. An ambitious and thoroughly enjoyable release.

Jeff Smith – “Fear Of A Black Messiah” (GiftedJeffSmithStore.BandCamp.Com) – In today’s divided and troubled times, music from artists such as Virginia’s Jeff Smith is needed more than ever. Following in the footsteps of acts such as Public Enemy, Paris and Kam, the outspoken emcee delivered an uncompromising look at what it means to be Black in Amerikkka today from his own perspective. Dealing with racial, social and political issues head-on, Smith proved that edutainment is still alive and well in Hip-Hop.

The Legion – “Three The Bronx Way” (FBDistribution.BandCamp.Com) – Grounded in memories of 80s Bronx block parties, street-corner ciphers and nights at the Latin Quarter, NY trio Molecules, Chucky Smash and Dice Man (aka Cee-Low) jingle jangled their way through this uncompromising dose of traditional Rotten Apple rap. The BX keeps creating it.

Damani Nkosi and ill Camille – “HARRIETT” (DamCam.BandCamp.Com) – West Coast duo Damani Nkosi and ill Camille combined their talents on this full-length project, determined to satisfy your soul and stimulate your third-eye via an organic blend of smooth, melodic production and uplifting lyrical content which was influenced by the past, grounded in the present and looking towards the future.

Infinite Thoughts – “Instrumentals” (1990SomethingLLC.BandCamp.Com) – Washington’s DJ NOZs and E Boogie delivered a stunning selection of uplifting, soulful beats on this brilliantly crafted project, showcasing not only their passion for boom-bap but also their shared ear for quality musicianship, blending dusty, basement-style drums with melodic keys and horns.

Showbiz x Milano – “Boulevard Author” (DITCEnt.Com) – A shining example of quality now-school Rotten Apple rap, this concise collection of dusty-fingered beats and well-executed, laser-precise rhymes found the Diggin’ In The Crates duo each residing at the top of their game. Milano has been a lyrical force to be reckoned with since his debut in the late-90s and Show’s ear for an ill loop definitely hasn’t faded over time, with this album carrying on DITC tradition and proudly supporting the classic sound of NYC.

Lisaan’dro – “M.A.D.E. (My Allies Died Early)” (Lisaandro.BandCamp.Com) – Gang Starr’s Guru once said it’s mostly the voice of an emcee that sets him or her apart from the competition. If Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal were still here today he would no doubt hold NY’s Lisaan’dro up to prove his point. The Long Island lyricist’s immediately recognizable raspy flow does indeed give his music a unique quality, but aside from that, as showcased on this album, Lisaan’dro also has a real talent for penning verses filled with pimpish slick talk and street-wise observations, which were backed up here by production from the likes of The Custodian Of Records, Leaf Dog, Flashius Clayton and more.

Es – “Social Meteor Vol. 1:Inspired By My Timeline” (EsMusik.BandCamp.Com) – If you were already familiar with Canadian emcee Es before 2019 via previous albums such as “Aspire To Inspire” (2014) and “We Are Only Getting Older” (2017), then you would have already been well aware that this talented wordsmith offers plenty of food for thought in his music. This latest project continued that tradition, with Es tackling the pros and cons of social media and our obsession with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram etc, accompanied by production from Pro-Logic, DJ QVP and Rel McCoy.

O The Great – “This Art Is Real” (OTheGreat,BandCamp.Com) – NY’s O The Great swung a heavy lyrical sword throughout this project, which bristled with a true passion for the art and culture of Hip-Hop. Mixing contemplative rhymes and observational jewels with raw bravado, the skilled emcee (who also produced the majority of this release) held the listener’s attention with ease via his sharp delivery and down-to-earth attitude. The album also featured worthwhile appearances from the likes of  Supreme Cerebral, BanishHabitual and Supreme Magnetic.

Benny Diction & Able8 – “Oak Dreams” (MillenniumJazz.BandCamp.Com) – Recapturing the creative chemistry heard on their brilliant 2013 collabo album “Life Moves”, UK emcee Benny Diction and Australian producer Able8 joined forces once again for this EP on the Millennium Jazz label. A concise collection of honest, thoughtful lyricism and forward-thinking soundscapes, “Oak Dreams” was yet another worthy addition to Benny’s already impressive catalogue.

WateRR & The Standouts – “The Honorable” (WateRR.BandCamp.Com) – Chicago emcee WateRR appeared to have found the perfect sonic backdrop for his swaggering, forthright rhymes in the form of Texas production duo The Standouts, who supplied the Windy City wordsmith with a strong selection of attention-grabbing loops and samples on this impressive long-player.

Finale – “62” (FinaleDet313.BandCamp.Com) – Longstanding supporters of Detroit’s Finale will already know he is an emcee determined to fill his verses with substance, honesty and integrity. This latest album from the Motor City wordsmith continued in that tradition, with Finale offering personal rhymes about family, relationships and fatherhood over a well-chosen selection of soulful production.

Otis Mensah – “Rap Poetics” (OtisMensah.BandCamp.Com) – Unique, refreshing and possessing an undeniable mastery of words, flow and language, UK rapper-slash-poet Otis Mensah packed this six-track EP with a seemingly effortless stream of vivid imagery, stimulating lyricism and magnetic energy, all delivered over a nice selection of crisp, jazzy beats.

Super Duty Tough Work – “Studies In Grey” (SuperDutyToughWork.BandCamp.Com) – The idea of a live band making Hip-Hop is nothing new, but it is a concept that takes real skill to execute effectively. At the top end of the scale, groups like The Roots and the UK’s Mouse Outfit have consistently released incredible music based around the live band format. But when done badly, the end product can sound limp and bland, lacking the thump and grit many Hip-Hop fans demand. Based on this EP, it would appear that Canadian band Super Duty Tough Work are definitely masters of their craft, balancing head-nodding beats and nimble rhymes with smooth instrumentation, incorporating vibrant keys, lively bass and punctuating horns.

Asun Eastwood & Onaje Jordan – “Danger My Ally” (AsunEastwood.BandCamp.Com) – Canadian artist Asun Eastwood has steadily built himself a reputation over the last couple of years as one of the nicest emcees making noise in the underground. This latest release (produced by Chicago’s Onaje Jordan) offered more of the raw, uncut wordplay that supporters have grown accustomed to, reflecting the darker side of Toronto’s streets.

Part Two coming soon.

New Joint – Lisaan’dro

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Lisaan’dro – “King Me” (@Panamanian_Dro / 2019)

The NY-raised artist comes to claim the crown on this atmospheric J-Es-produced cut off his new album “M.A.D.E. (My Allies Died Early)”.

 

New Joint – Lisaan’dro

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Lisaan’dro – “Long Time, No See” (@Panamanian_Dro / 2018)

The talented NY emcee weaves clever, nimble wordplay around soulful, full-bodied beats from The Custodian Of Records.

New Joint – Don O / Lisaan’dro / Flashius Clayton

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Don O ft. Lisaan’dro & Flashius Clayton – “Doorbusters” (@FrozenDeliDon / 2018)

Lou Minoti provides three of the nicest emcees out right now with some quality production for this dope East-meets-West collabo cut.

New Joint – Lisaan’dro / Flashius Clayton

Lisaan’dro ft. Flashius Clayton – “No Competition” (@Panamanian_Dro / 2018)

Back-to-back lyrical techniques served fresh from the Knuckle Sandwich Deli.

New Joint – Lisaan’dro

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Lisaan’dro – “A Message To The Fans” (@Panamanian_Dro / 2018)

The NY emcee sends one out to his supporters with this New Edition-sampling, Fortes-produced cut.

New Joint – Lisaan’dro

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Lisaan’dro – “High Notes” (@Panamanian_Dro / 2018)

The NY-raised emcee drops hard-knock rhymes over smooth, drama-fuelled production from the UK’s Leaf Dog.

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2017 (Part Five) – Ray Vendetta & Giallo Point / Defari / Conway etc.

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

Ray Vendetta & Giallo Point – “Sins Of The Son” (PrestigiousRecordings1.BandCamp.Com) – Triple Darkness member Vendetta called on the talents of prolific producer Giallo Point for this epic display of hardcore brilliance, with the London-based lyricist dropping vivid, street-smart rhymes over expertly-crafted loops and beats perfectly suited to the UK emcee’s forthright delivery.

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Showbiz & A.G. – “Take It Back” (DITCEnt.Com) – One of Hip-Hop’s greatest musical partnerships, Bronx duo Show & A.G. dropped this stellar effort some twenty-five years after their first releases appeared on record store shelves. Having lost none of his dusty-fingered touch, Showbiz delivered plenty of that trademark DITC sound here, with Andre The Giant flowing effortlessly throughout.

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Jazz Spastiks & Mellosoulblack – “Midnight Method” (JazzSpastiks.BandCamp.Com) – UK production duo the Jazz Spastiks provided Stateside crew Mellosoulblack with a heavy dose of their full-bodied production sound on this quality collaborative album. Thumping beats, random samples and crafty cuts were blended with witty, freestyle-flavoured rhymes here, resulting in an upbeat, feel-good true-school listening experience.

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Rapsody – “Laila’s Wisdom” (Jamla Records / Roc Nation) – 2017 was a big year for North Carolina’s Rapsody, culminating in a Grammy nomination for this deserving body of work. Truth be told, the talented artist didn’t do anything different here than she’s already been doing since debuting her solo material in 2011, incorporating personal experiences, fierce lyricism and a good ear for strong production into one undeniable package. The increased amount of attention Rapsody received this time around, however, was proof that talent and hard-work can get you to where you want to be.

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Kamanchi Sly – “Slycriminality” / “Ultimate BBoy 92” (KamanchiSly.Com) – Hijack legend K Sly dropped two albums in 2017 and, as much as I tried, I really couldn’t decide which was the better of the two, so I’m giving props to both projects here. A pioneer of the 80s UK Hip-Hop scene, the South London lyricist proved throughout both these self-produced releases that his dedication to microphone dominance hasn’t faded over the years at all. Mixing a true love of Hip-Hop culture with a passion for crushing the competition and some wordly wisdom, Kamanchi Sly injected his 2017 output with the energy of a new artist and the experience of a battle-hardened veteran. Stockwell serves again!

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Estee Nack & Friends – “#MiniMansionDust Vol.2” (EsteeNack.BandCamp.Com) – Tragic Allies member Estee Nack dropped science alongside Daniel Son, al.divino and Mr. Rose on this solid collection of fly underground jewels, with the Massachusetts mic fiend’s gritty delivery and righteous street knowledge hitting the target as always.

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Flashius Clayton & Lisaan’dro – “Money Makin Music” (FlashiusClayton.BandCamp.Com) – The end result of a weekly series of free tracks dropped between September and November, this project effectively showcased the sharp rhyme skills of Cali’s Flashius Clayton and NY’s Lisaan’dro, two distinctly different emcees with a shared passion for the craft of lyricism. Featuring production from Farma Beats, The Historian and Spectacular Diagnostics, “Money Makin Music” marked both these talented individuals as ones to watch in 2018 and beyond.

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Blacastan & Stu Bangas – “The Uncanny Adventures Of Watson & Holmes” (BrickRecords.Com) – The sequel to their 2014 Watson & Holmes project, this album was another collection of raw beats and rhymes from the Connecticut emcee and Boston producer that definitely wasn’t for the faint-hearted. Slashing through your speakers with razor-sharp precision, the chemistry shared between the pair was apparent once again here, with all the elements of a true musical partnership on display.

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Jay-Z – “4:44” (RocNation.Com) – Jay-Z has always been a divisive figure in Hip-Hop, sparking passionate debates between those who see him as a calculating commercial rapper and others who consider him one of the greatest artists of all-time. To be fair, both camps have valid points, as Hov’s career has contained moments of sonic brilliance and disappointment. This album, however, was his best release in a decade, with the nearly fifty-year-old artist talking about topics a nearly fifty-year-old artist in Jay’s position should be addressing in their music – family, society, personal failures, successes – displaying a different side to the Brooklyn icon than we’d heard and seen before.

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Ankhlejohn – “The Red Room” (Shaap Records / FxckRxp.Com) – The raspy-voiced Washington D.C. wordsmith dropped this cohesive collection of late-night street-hop mixing East Coast boom-bap sensibilities with a no-holds-barred lyrical approach, resulting in a project that was something of an acquired taste but that offered a unique listening experience for those who embraced “The Red Room” in all of its unhinged glory.

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Spnda & Grubby Pawz – “Steel Sharpens Steel” (CityYardMusic.BandCamp.Com) – On point like a knife blade, this Boston duo’s album was an effective lesson in how to craft a project that has the ability to really draw the listener in, with Spnda’s liquid swordplay meshing perfectly with producer Pawz’ loop-based mellow madness, resulting in an album that was both atmospheric and captivating with maximum replay value.

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RSXGLD – “RSXGLD” (RSXGLD.BandCamp.Com) – This album found veteran Michigan representatives RoSpit and 14KT successfully pushing their respective creative boundaries on each track, giving “RSXGLD” a sound that was soulful, hardcore and experimental in equal measures. Ambitious, personal, speaker-rattling Hip-Hop.

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Jehst – “Billy Green Is Dead” (YNRProductions.BandCamp.Com) – Named after a socially-aware 1972 Gil-Scott Heron track, UK producer-on-the-mic Jehst’s first album in six years was a deep musical experience to fully immerse yourself in, offering commentary on today’s modern world which, at times, made for unsettling and haunting listening. A truly brilliant work of art.

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Recognize Ali & Giallo Point – “Back 2 Mecca” (RecognizeAli.BandCamp.Com) – The last of three albums to be released in 2017 by Greenfield Music’s talented Recognize Ali, this project paid tribute to the culture of Hip-Hop and was powered by the typically impressive production of the UK’s Giallo Point, with the likes of Estee Nack, Daniel Son and PhybaOptikz also contributing their skills to this raw collection of subterranean gems.

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Life MC & DJ Nappa – “Audio Bliss” (LifeMC.BandCamp.Com) – One of UK Hip-Hop’s most distinctive voices, Life MC touched on a variety of topics throughout this succinct seven-track EP, with fellow Phi-Life Cypher member Nappa pulling out some top-drawer production to match the Luton lyricist’s passionate verses.

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Ash The Author & Krang – “Two Man Band” (BoomBapPro.Com) – Lively, spontaneous vibes from the UK duo, with Ash’s cleverly cocky rhymes sitting nicely over the jazz-influenced production of Krang, a combination which added another worthy release to the Boom Bap Professionals label catalogue.

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Defari – “Rare Poise” (Fat Beats) – Part of the mid-90s West Coast independent scene and a Likwit Crew affiliate, Defari is no stranger to releasing quality music. Calling on the production skills of Evidence to assist in crafting his first album in eleven years, the Cali emcee proved that he hadn’t missed a beat with this self-assured set which also featured appearances from longstanding Left Coast wordsmiths Rakaa Iriscience, Krondon and Phil Tha Agony.

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Verb T & Pitch 92 – “Good Evening” (HighFocus.BandCamp.Com) – Supported by the brilliant production of Mouse Outfit music man Pitch 92, the mighty Verb T dropped an engaging, down-to-earth mix of life observations, dry wit and personal reflection, proving once again why his stature as UK Hip-Hop royalty is so well-deserved.

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Codenine – “IX” (Codenine.BandCamp.Com) – Backed by the sublime, minimalist soundscapes of producers Kas and Motif Alumni, Tragic Allies member Codenine made sure that not a moment of his time on the mic was wasted here, packing his verses with vivid imagery and a near-cinematic attention to detail that put him head-and-shoulders above much of his competition.

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Conway – “G.O.A.T.” (WhoIsConway.Com) – Buffalo’s master of murderous mood music returned at the end of the year with a fresh batch of  cold-hearted crime rhymes and dark Daringer production, closing off what had been an eventful twelve months for the Griselda emcee and setting high expectations for what 2018 may bring via Conway’s signing to Eminem’s Shady Records.

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New Joint – Lisaan’dro

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Lisaan’dro – “This Year” (@Panamanian_Dro / 2018)

Low-key punch-you-in-ya-face rap produced by The Historian.

New Joint – Farma Beats / Nowaah The Flood / Lisaan’dro / Flashius Clayton

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Farma Beats ft. Nowaah The Flood, Lisaan’dro & Flashius Clayton – “Third Rails & Trailblazers” (@FarmaBeats / 2018)

High-quality neck-snapper produced by the UK’s Farma Beats and featuring three of the nicest emcees in the game right now each flexing their microphone muscle.

New Joint – Lisaan’dro

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Lisaan’dro – “Read My Mind” (@Panamanian_Dro / 2017)

Strong Island slick talk produced by the UK’s Farma Beats.

 

 

New Joint – Lisaan’dro

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Lisaan’dro – “A Million Caribbeans” (@Panamanian_Dro / 2017)

The NY emcee wraps nimble flows around rolling, piano-laced production from the UK’s Farma Beats with undeniably impressive results.

Something Greater EP Stream – Lisaan’dro

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Raw, raspy rhymes from the Strong Island emcee produced largely by California’s Flashius Clayton.