Tag Archives: Lo-Fi Fingahz

52 Best Albums & EPs Of 2012 (Part Three) – Apollo Brown & Guilty Simpson / M9 / Showbiz & AG etc.

Apollo Brown & Guilty Simpson – “Dice Game” (Mello Music Group) – This Motown duo definitely weren’t taking a gamble when they jumped in the studio together to record this sureshot collection of rugged bangers. With Simpson injecting his rhymes with a slightly more personal feel than on previous material, Brown ensured his beats matched the tone of the Detroit emcee’s verses perfectly, whether highlighting their hometown (“Reputation”) or pondering the future (“How Will I Go”).

dice game cover

Grand Papa Tra – “Lost In New York” (GrandPapaTra.BandCamp.Com) – Not one for adhering to today’s digital norm of emailing tracks and verses back and forth to complete a project, Swiss producer Tra wanted a more authentic recording experience, so made the trip to NYC to put together this collection of East Coast-influenced cuts with the likes of Sadat X, Mic Geronimo and Royal Flush.

lost in new york cover

Prose – “Back In The Habit” (Boom Bap Professionals) – Following-up two impressive albums, “Force Of Habit” (2010) and “The Dark Side Of The Boom” (2011), UK emcee / producer partnership Efeks and Steady Rock remained true to their underground roots on this quality EP which featured the witty old-school tribute “The Class Of ’94”.

prose habit cover

Fraction & Fresh Kils – “Extra Science” (Math Music Productions) – This album could easily never have happened considering it was a chance encounter at a Toronto Hip-Hop event that led to this Canadian duo teaming-up for this release. Thankfully, the rap gods were obviously smiling on that fateful day, which in turn led to underground fans being blessed with an accomplished, polished display of musical brilliance steeped in soulful, jazzy vibes and masterful lyricism.

fraction cover

Union – “Analogtronics” (Fat Beats) – A mind-bending mix of 80s-style synths, Dilla-influenced beats and space-age imagery, Paris-based producers OJ and Gold delivered a truly unique sonic experience with this collection of intergalactic funk, taking listeners on an epic musical journey amongst the stars with the likes of Talib Kweli, MF Doom and Roc Marciano on-hand to lyrically moonwalk across their sci-fly soundscapes.

union cover

Casual & J Rawls – “Respect Game Or Expect Flames” (Nature Sounds) – An unexpected but welcome collaboration, the cocky, Oakland drawl of Hiero’s Casual was the perfect fit for veteran Ohio-based producer Rawls’ well-crafted beats on this thoroughly entertaining album.

casual rawls cover

M9 – “Magna Carta” (M9Ether.BandCamp.Com) – Easily one of the most gifted lyricists in the present-day rap game, London’s Melanin 9 filled his heavily-anticpated “Magna Carta” project with intricately woven verses packed with gritty street knowledge, political opinion and social commentary. Edutainment, indeed.

magna carta cover

Gensu Dean – “Lo-Fi Fingahz” (Mello Music Group) – Texas-based producer Dean celebrated his love of his trusty SP 1200 sampler by using it to craft a quality selection of true-school neck-snappers on this album which featured the likes of Brand Nubian, Large Professor and Count Bass D.

gensu dean cover

Heavy Links – “The Essence” (HeavyLinks.BandCamp.Com) – Midlands, UK trio Habitat, El Tel and Donnie Propa released their third EP project which, following a successful appearance at September’s Boom Bap Hip-Hop Festival, raised the crew’s profile and widened the audience for their brand of good ol’ fashioned homegrown rap.

heavy links cover

Showbiz & AG – “Mugshot Music: Preloaded” (DITC Records) – Released as a free warm-up for “Mugshot Music” proper, this might not have been considered an official album by the Bronx duo, but it was definitely much more than just a mixtape. Featuring some of Show’s best production in recent times and typically self-assured bars from Andre The Giant, “Preloaded” probably wouldn’t have left fans unsatisfied even if it had been the pair’s only 2012 release.

Showbiz & AG cover

Ryan Proctor

Part Four coming soon – check Part One and Part Two.

New Joint – Gensu Dean / Large Professor

Gensu Dean ft. Large Professor – “Forever” (Mello Music Group / 2012)

Extra P blesses a quality Gensu Dean production from the album “Lo-Fi Fingahz”.

Album Review – Gensu Dean

Gensu Dean

“Lo-Fi Fingahz”

(Mello Music Group)

To many boom-bap die-hards the SP 1200 is the definitive weapon of choice for any musical maestro worth their weight in dusty vinyl. The 1987 E-mu manufactured sampler is to Hip-Hop what the lightsaber is to the Jedi Order. In much the same way that Yoda wouldn’t consider someone a Jedi Knight until they’d completely mastered the space-age sword, there are many out there who won’t consider bestowing the title of Hip-Hop producer upon anyone who hasn’t paid their dues on the same piece of equipment that birthed so many classics in the hands of legends like Paul C., Pete Rock and Lord Finesse.

Noted for its notoriously limited sampling time, the SP pushed golden-age producers to the limits of their creativity, leading to some inspired breakthroughs in studios everywhere as the likes of Marley Marl and Showbiz squeezed everything they could from the machine in order to bring to life the soundscapes that blasted loudly in their mind’s eye. Fast-forward to the present day and with all of the new technology available to make the creative process easier and faster, it would take a dedicated boom-bap disciple to disregard such convenience and still insist on crafting their beats via the SP 1200.

Enter Texas-based producer Gensu Dean. Refusing to abandon the trademark gritty, warm sound of the SP for the slicker feel of more recent advancements, Dean’s Mello Music Group debut manages to carry on golden-era tradition without sounding dated or redundant. “Lo-Fi Finghaz” isn’t the work of a producer simply refusing to let go of the past regardless of the quality of the finished product, rather it’s the sound of a musician choosing to work with the equipment he knows will enable him to create the best music he possibly can.

Having remained under the radar for much of his career (Dean’s first production credit was on Southern duo Crooked Lettaz’ 1999 album “Dark Skies”), this debut album has been a long time coming and it’s obvious from listening to the project that the talented beat-digger wanted to ensure he dropped a release that would stand the test of time. The level of production heard on “Lo-Fi Fingahz” remains high throughout, with every cut here deserving of its place on the final tracklisting.

Featuring a varied selection of emcees, all of the collaborations included on “Lo-Fi Fingahz” sound completely natural, with Gensu’s masterful boardwork ensuring the album remains cohesive rather than simply sounding like a compilation.

The full-bodied “In My Head” finds Brand Nubian’s Sadat X and Lord Jamar blessing knocking drums laced with quirky keyboard flourishes, as the Wild Cowboy drops god-body science and J-A-mother-effin’-M-A-R highlights the benefits of releasing music in today’s digital-age (“Nothing to press up, Nothing to ship out”). NY-born, Atlanta-based emcee HeadKrack makes a notable appearance with his solo track “It’s Just Him”, attacking Dean’s dramatic blend of thumping beats and blaxploitation-style guitar licks with aggressive intelligence (“My music ain’t for the dancers, It’s for the people who question the answers”).

Strong Island’s Sputnik Brown are on-hand to rock the same 1973 Betty Lavette break used on Stezo’s 1989 classic “To The Max”, whilst the chopped guitar, haunting female vocal sample and thick drums of “Forever” provide the perfect neck-snapping backdrop for a typically timeless Large Professor performance.

The upbeat “Extra Extra” is a joyous slice of feel-good boom-bap featuring the positive lyrical vibes of UK duo The Planets, whilst one-half of the British pair, Nomadic, also appears on the stripped-down transatlantic collabo “12 Jewelz” with Roc Marciano, proving that from the pavements of London to the sidewalks of New York it’s still politics as usual.

A great body of work, “Lo-Fi Fingahz” proves undoubtedly that Gensu Dean’s faith in his trusty SP 1200 definitely wasn’t misplaced. One man, one machine, one quality album.

Ryan Proctor

Gensu Dean ft. Large Professor – “Forever” (Mello Music Group / 2012)

New Joint – Gensu Dean / Roc Marciano

Gensu Dean ft. Roc Marciano – “Yen” (Mello Music Group / 2012)

Taken from the Texas-based producer’s new album “Lo-Fi Finghaz” which dropped this week.