Tag Archives: Rhymefest

New Joint – DJ Jazzy Jeff / Rhymefest / Dayne Jordan

DJ Jazzy Jeff ft. Rhymefest & Dayne Jordan – “Skaters Paradise” (@DJJazzyJeff215 / 2018)

Funky, feel-good flavour from the Philly legend’s new album “M3”.


New Joint – Sadat X / Rhymefest / Jabar

sadat cover

Sadat X ft. Rhymefest & Jabar – “Imagine” (@SadatX / 2016)

The Brand Nubian emcee ponders life on this Will Tell-produced head-nodder from his new album “Agua”.

New Joint – Kenny Dope & Raheem DeVaughn / Rhymefest

Kenny Dope & Raheem DeVaughn ft. Rhymefest – “Final Call” (Kay-Dee Records / 2014)

Soulful vibes, positive lyrics and powerful imagery helmed by eclectic NY musical maestro Kenny Dope.

Re:Discovering… – Grav


“Down To Earth”

(Correct Records / 1996)

I don’t actually remember the day I picked up this album from Harlem-raised, Chicago-based emcee Grav, which is unusual for me because I tend to have a memory like an elephant when it comes to recalling the finer details of my musical purchases throughout the years. I know where I got it from (Luton’s now defunct Soul Sense Records), but who I was with and details of the day are hazy to say the least. But the fact I can’t immediately bring back vivid images of my decision to dig into my not-so-fat pockets for this Windy City emcee’s one-and-only album is no reflection of the quality to be found within its fifteen tracks, but it does hint at the fact that this was an album that popped up out of nowhere from an unknown artist that, at the time, obviously wasn’t at the top of my wants list.

In fact, had it not been for the fact that “Down To Earth” was released on the short-lived Correct imprint, I might not have paid the album any attention at all whilst scanning the new releases on that day back in 1996. Wax historians will remember Correct Records as the label that, prior to this release, had dropped former Beatnuts member Al’ Tariq’s solo album “God Connections”, a project that this particular Hip-Hop junkie bumped in heavy-rotation throughout the autumn of ’96 (and yes, I’m still mad The Source only gave that particular release a criminal two-and-a-half-mics in the mag’s legendary Record Report section).

It was the easily recognizable orange Correct logo on this album’s back cover that prompted me to ask one of the Soul Sense staff if I could hear a few snippets out of curiosity. What boomed out of the shop’s speakers would go on to become one of my favourite long-players from the 90s independent era.

A solid, confident collection of boastful rhymes and heavy beats that leant heavily towards the raw boom-bap of NYC, “Down To Earth” found Grav (a.k.a Mr Massive) positioning himself as an accomplised emcee with a boisterous but likeable microphone persona.

At the time, Common was still really the only underground artist from Chicago to have gained universal props from all corners of Planet Rock, with other Chi-town acts such as All Natural having yet to drop their future releases that would draw further attention to the city’s busy subterranean rap scene of the time. So Grav’s “Down To Earth” (recorded in both Chicago and at NY’s legendary Powerplay Studios) was something of a novelty to a Hip-Hop head familiar with the stylings of Queensbridge, Compton and The Bronx, yet still largely unaware of what the Midwest had to offer.

Whilst “Down To Earth” boasts sterling production from Common collaborators No ID and Dug Infinite, what has made Grav’s debut something of a curiosity in recent years is the fact that over half of the album’s full-length cuts were produced by a young Kanye West. A world away from the sped-up soul samples that became his Roc-A-Fella trademark and the somewhat pretentious hugely-orchestrated productions of last year’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, Kanye’s production here was rooted in the dusty wax found in Chicago record store basements, encapsulating soul, jazz and funk samples placed skilfully over headphone-ready, dome-nodding drums.

On the ominous “Sick Thoughts” Grav comes off like a low-key Dungeon Dragon era Busta Rhymes as he delivers lyrical body blows to his competition, whilst the funky “City To City” finds Al’ Tariq joining his labelmate for a potent display of witty fast-paced wordplay over a pulsating sample lifted from Eddie Henderson’s 1978 jazz fusion classic “Cyclops”.

“Thought It Was On” is a humorous account of a failed relationship that wears its Slick Rick storytelling influences on its Ecko Unltd sleeve, whilst “One Puff” is the obligatory weed cut that was a staple of so many 90s albums, with Grav speaking on a smoke-out session gone wrong (“My brains’s pounding over and over again, Since when was weed a hallucinogen?”).

The Odyssey-sampling title track features Jurassic 5’s DJ Nu-Mark on turntable duties, whilst the closing Andy C.-produced “C’mon” is a dope mixture of menacing bass and melodic chimes that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Godfather Don release.

Looking at the album’s liner notes in 2011, it’s interesting to see names such as Rubberoom, Juice and Rhymefest being given shoutouts, artists that in 1996 would’ve meant little to anyone outside of the Chicago rap scene, but who in subsequent years would all achieve varying degrees of success in the wider world of Hip-Hop.

Ultimately, “Down To Earth” has stood the test of time well. Built on a foundation of production techniques and lyrical styles that are quintessentially mid-90s, the album doesn’t sound overly dated or cliche today.

With acts such as All Natural, Molemen and, of course, Kanye West, all doing their part to push Chicago rap further into the global Hip-Hop conscience, this one-off album from Grav could perhaps be considered the link that bridges the gap between the early-90s work of Common Sense and the later material released by the aforementioned Windy City artists.

As Grav himself might say, that’s word to all my Dunzillas!

Ryan Proctor

Grav ft. Al’ Tariq & Lil’ Ray – “City To City” (Correct Records / 1996)

The Hip-Hop Affect Cover / Tracklisting – J Rawls

The Ohio-based producer responsible for bangers from the likes of Lone Catalysts, Black Star, El Da Sensei and Masta Ace releases his new album via Green Streets Int. on May 17th.

From The Press Release:

“”The Hip-Hop Affect” tells the story of how Rawls grew with Hip-Hop as Hip-Hop itself continued to grow.  Born out of a dialogue with his son, THHA explores Rawls’ personal journey from Columbus to Cincinnati to cities all over the world, as well as Hip-Hop’s journey from block parties to MTV to total ubiquity.  “We walk, talk, and think Hip-Hop because we are Hip-Hop,” explains Rawls.  “We birthed it, created it, and reared it.  As with any child, we don’t like every change that we see Hip-Hop make, but we stick with it because we love it. This album tells the story of Hip-Hop and the affect it’s had on my life,” he explains.  “I really want to get people to ask themselves, How has Hip-Hop affected your life?”


1.  HHA Intro (ft. Joshy)
2.  Best Producer on the Mic (ft. Diamond D, Oh No & Kev Brown)
3.  Face It (ft. Sadat X & Wise Intelligent)
4.  Jewel (ft. Afaliah)
5.  Going Through Records (Interlude)
6.  Salute (ft. Piakhan)
7.  Just Rhymin’ with Fest (ft. Rhymefest)
8.  That Very First Day (ft. Fat Jon )
9.  Heeey (ft. El Da Sensei, John Robinson, LeFortheUncool & Afaliah)
10.  Who Am I? (ft. S.P.I.R.I.T.)
11.  Making a Beat (Interlude)
12.  Sandsy (ft. J. Sands [Lone Catalysts])
13.  Ya Friends in the Way (ft. Senor Kaos)
14.  Are You Listening? (Bad Azz, Copywrite & Edo G)
15.  Jussy on the Mic (Interlude)
16.  Why You Do
17.  Find a New (ft. Casual)
18.  Da Beatbox (Interlude)
19.  We’re on Top (#OhioTakeOver) (ft. Count Bass D , Trav Dave , Rashad , Co-City, , J Osceola , LeForTheUncool , Stalley , Tage [MHz, Columbus], Copywrite [MHz, Columbus], Donwill [Tanya Morgan,Cincinnati], 6S , Donte [Mood, Cincinnati], Piakhan , Ilyas [Tanya Morgan, Cincinnati], Main Flow [Mood, Cincinnati], Dominique Larue , Hood Apostle , ILL Poetic , ILLOGIC , Iyball [Fly.Union, Columbus], JaySwiffa [Fly.Union, Columbus], Jerreau [Fly.Union, Columbus], P Blackk )
20.  The Beat’s Done (Interlude)
21.  HHA Outro (Joshy Gets It)

One On One – Rhymefest

Mark Bazer of The Interview Show catches up with Rhymefest in his hometown of Chicago to talk about Barack Obama, Lupe Fiasco and the art of politricks.

Part One

Part Two


Rock Fest – Rhymefest

Improvised performance from the Chicago emcee at last week’s Pete Rock album release party.

A Change Gonna Come – Rhymefest

The Chicago emcee talks to Rolling Out TV about his upcoming sophomore album “El Che” and the importance of Black History Month.

Blaze It Up – Rhymefest / Just Blaze

Chicago’s Rhymefest hits the Rotten Apple to record with Just Blaze at Baseline Studios.