Tag Archives: Roc Marciano

100 Favourite Albums & EPs Of 2022 (Part Five) – Dres & Stu Bangas / Little Simz / Tommy Evans etc.

Fifth and final part of my 2022 wrap-up – check Part One, Part Two, Part Three & Part Four.

Homeboy Sandman – “Still Champion” (HomeboySandman-MMG-BandCamp.Com) – There was a genuine sense of hope and optimism running throughout this album that gave it a rejuvenating quality, both for listeners and Sandman himself it would seem. Sounding relaxed and at ease, the NY emcee bounced all over the lively, melodic production supplied by Colorado’s Deca, resulting in an entertainingly upbeat collection of tracks that contained its fair share of life-affirming lyrical gems.

Rapper Big Pooh – “To Dream In Color” (Soulspazm.BandCamp.Com) – Little Brother’s Big Pooh has always been known for personal, honest lyrics, but on “To Dream…” it felt like the North Carolina emcee was peeling back even more layers of his story as he masterfully looked back over his life and career whilst also looking towards the future. From his beginnings as a young rapper with a dream, then signing and leaving a major label deal, to his present situation as an independent artist, Pooh offered insight and transparency very step of the way, with his candour being given just the right amount of thump by producers such as DK The Punisher, D.R.U.G.S. Beats and Nottz.

Eddie Kaine x K-Sluggah – “Chosen” (EddieKaine.BandCamp.Com) – Exuding the street-smarts, swagger, bravado and lyrical wit we’ve come to expect from top-tier Brooklyn emcees, Eddie Kaine delivered the goods once again on this collaborative album with Sweden’s K-Sluggah. Telling vivid stories of the BK outside his window that were laced with struggle, tragedy and determination, Kaine’s verses were complimented by Sluggah’s atmospheric, almost gothic style of production. Crooklyn keeps on taking it.

Dres & Stu Bangas – “Sheep Stu” (BrutalMusic.Org) – Black Sheep member Dres’s place in the Hip-Hop history books is secured. As part of the Native Tongues family the Bronx-bred emcee helped to define an era in rap with one of the most recognisable voices (and flows) in the game. Some thirty years later and this team-up with hardcore composer Stu Bangas found D-R-E-S delivering his trademark blend of slick punchlines and life observations over a well-chosen selection of quality beats (this EP also included “Hate”, possiby my favourite song of 2022).

All Hail Y.T. & Anthony Danza – “All Hail Danza” (AllHailtYT.BandCamp.Com) – Any album featuring a track entitled “Keith Sweat” was almost guaranteed to be on some smooth, cool-out ish and this collaboration from Delaware’s All Hail Y.T. and Seattle’s Anthony Danza didn’t disappoint. Calmly and confidently delivering lessons from the hustler’s handbook over 80s / 90s R&B loops, Y.T. and Danza shared stories of the paper chase with genuine chemistry and aplomb.

Roc Marciano & The Alchemist – “The Elephant Man’s Bones” (RocMarci.Com) – Underground kings Roc Marc and Uncle Al joined forces here and it could be argued brought the best out of each other in the process. Strong Island’s Marcberg dropped his understated crime rhyme drama with his usual cool, calm demeanour, appearing to be living the luxury life of a high roller, whilst at times the subtle tension in Alchemist’s expert production hinted that at any moment the walls could come closing in with the unknown being just around the corner.

Ka – “Languish Arts” (BrownsvilleKa.Com) – One of two albums released in 2022 by Brooklyn’s Ka and further proof (if it were needed) that the Brownsville emcee is one of the most gifted writers of his generation. “Languish Arts” found Ka once again finding meaning in the delicate balance of life, capturing feelings of love, pain, peace, turmoil, hope, regret and a myriad of other emotions in his mesmerising verses. An elite talent whose music is chiseled out of the memories and experiences of a period in New York history never to be forgotten, Ka once again allowed us the privilege of looking into his soul.

TrueMendous – “Great. On Purpose” (TrueMendous.BandCamp.Com) – Birmingham’s TrueMendous showcased her creative brilliance once again on this sophomore album for the UK’s High Focus label, wrapping her shape-shifting flow around a diverse array of production from the likes of Illinformed, Pitch 92 and Forest DLG. True’s magnetic personality shone brightly here, as she waxed lyrical about life, relationships and the world at large in her own inimitable style.

junclassic – “Long Days And Short Lives” (junclassic.BandCamp.Com) – This release from NY’s junclassic played out like an audio diary, with the Queens emcee vividly recounting numerous memories, scenarios and situations that captured a variety of feelings and moods, all linking back to the overall concept of the album and reminding us all that however difficult some of our days may seem, ultimately life can be short so should never be taken for granted. Production from the likes of Semi, J Slikk and The SOULution offered a smooth backdrop for junclassic’s verses.

Vic Spencer & August Fanon – “Psychological Cheat Sheet 3” (VicSpencer.BandCamp.Com) – The third installment of Vic Spencer’s “Psychological…” series featured the Chicago artist teaming-up with producer August Fanon for another striking display of clever, conversational rhymes with a personal edge, complimented by brilliant, jazz-influenced beats.

J. Sands – “Women” (LoneCatalysts.BandCamp.Com) – A feel-good collection of fly love songs, this album from Pittsburgh’s J. Sands bumped and bounced with all the upbeat energy of a new relationship. Playful, humorous and butter-smooth, Sands showed himself to be a stone cold gentleman as he celebrated the ladies in sincere fashion over a selection of soulful cool-breeze beats that would definitely make Bonita Applebum bob her head.

Archibald Slim – “Worldly Ways” (POWRecordings.BandCamp.Com) – Offering listeners a constant flow of street-smart thoughts and observations delivered over lush, laidback soundscapes, Atlanta’s Archibald Slim packed a lot into the ten cuts that made up this album. Possessing a talent for being able to quickly pull you into his world on each track, the Southern emcee’s down-to-earth demeanor and openness meant you found yourself willing Slim to win as he detailed his everyday struggles.

Truck North – “Feast Of Violence” (TruckNorth.BandCamp.Com) – An absolute master of his craft, Philly’s Truck North (who first came to the attention of many via his work with The Roots) stands as part of a long line of talented Illadelph emcees, capable of turning his experiences in the shadows of the City Of Brotherly Love into vivid, hard-hitting verses of gritty poetic excellence. This album was further proof of North’s potent rhyming abilities and was the sound of an individual making music with a genuine sense of purpose.

Jermiside & The Expert – “The Overview Effect” (TheExpert.BandCamp.Com) – An album crafted for today’s unsettling times, New Jersey’s Jermiside and Dublin’s The Expert shared a creative partnership here which resulted in some truly powerful and striking music that pushed buttons, demanded thought and prompted reaction. With lyrics tackling subjects such as war, racism and social unrest being paired with an eclectic, unpredictable selection of sample-heavy, 60s-influenced beats, “The Overview Effect” succeeded in its mission to draw lessons from the past, comment on the present and offer hope for the future.

Artifacts x Buckwild – “No Expiration Date” (SmokeOnRecords.Com) – At the time of its release announcement, this long-awaited album was a cause for celebration as Brick City favourites El Da Sensei and Tame One reunited over the production of D.I.T.C. legend Buckwild, with the duo of course offering a nod of respect to the late DJ Kaos who passed away in 2019. By the end of 2022, however, this project stood as an unexpected tribute to Tame One who sadly passed himself in November. That said, “No Expiration Date” captured everything that has always been great about Artifacts – lyrical skills, brotherhood, true-school attitude and speaker-shaking beats. RIP Tame One and DJ Kaos!

Renelle 893 & King Kashmere – “Cocoa Butter” (Renelle893.BandCamp.Com) – As a recent signing to the UK’s mighty High Focus label, London-based emcee Renelle 893 made sure everyone knew he’d arrived on this five-track EP. Possessing a laidback delivery and a penchant for sharp punchlines, Renelle calmly swaggered through this release, with his entertaining rhymes being complimented by the off-kilter funk and hazy retro soul vibes of cult hero King Kashmere. Vibes and stuff in abundance.

Danger Mouse & Black Thought – “Cheat Codes” (DangerMouseBlackThought.Com) – Philly’s Black Thought has been so good for so long that it could be easy for some to take his consistently incredible feats of lyrical excellence for granted. This album with boundary-pushing producer Danger Mouse was a reminder that, yes, Thought is still that good (one of the best to do it, in fact) and that his rhyming capabilities are anything but normal. As always, the Roots front-man’s verses spilled out here like a roller-coaster of verbal virtuosity, twisting, turning, requiring the listener to hold on to every word uttered in an attempt to keep up with his unrelenting rap momentum.

Little Simz – “NO THANK YOU” (LittleSimz.Com) – To say this album from London’s Little Simz was brilliant would be an understatement. Having received critical acclaim, media attention and awards for 2021’s “Sometimes I Might Be Introvert” after years of hard work and numerous releases, “NO THANK YOU” was the sound of an artist who had finally been let through the music industry door, looked around, didn’t like what she saw and walked back out wanting to talk about it. The level of honesty heard here was both courageous and refreshing as Simz tackled the greed, racism and overall fickleness found within the corporate music game in measured tones, with justified anger and frustration just below the surface. Longtime collaborator Inflo’s production ranged from subtle to symphonic, perfectly complimenting Simz and adding further levels of emotion to the album which helped the rhymes hit that bit harder. True greatness.

Tommy Evans – “Tragedy And Hope” (TommyEvansOfficial.Com) – A longstanding fixture of the UK Hip-Hop scene, Tommy Evans delivered an album that felt uplifting and optimistic whilst still touching on some of life’s daily challenges. Produced entirely by Bobby Hex who provided a unique sonic dimension to the release with the attention to detail displayed in his work, this was an album that massaged your spirit with a warm, inspiring energy.

Grunge Gallardo – “Before The Winner Comes The Fall” (TheOpioidEra.BandCamp.Com) – Dropping right at the end of the year, Grunge Gallardo (of Virginia’s Opioid Era crew) showcased his formidable rhyme skills on this impressive UKAT-produced album, spitting passionate verses packed with life reflections, street knowledge and social / cultural commentary over raw beats.

New Joint – Roc Marciano & The Alchemist

Roc Marciano & The Alchemist – “The Elephant Man’s Bones” (@RocMarci / @Alchemist / 2022)

Dope Unjust-directed animation accompanies the title track for the recent well-received collabo album from Marcberg and ALC.

New Joint – Roc Marciano & The Alchemist

Roc Marciano & The Alchemist – “Quantum Leap” (ALCRecords.Com / 2022)

Cool and deadly mellow madness off the well-received album “The Elephant Man’s Bones” from Roc and The Alchemist.

New Joint – Roc Marciano & The Alchemist / Ice-T

Roc Marciano & The Alchemist ft. Ice-T – “The Horns Of Abraxas” (@RocMarci / @Alchemist / 2022)

Sonic drama and cinematic visuals off the long-awaited Roc / Alchemist collabo album “The Elephant Man’s Bones”.

New Joint – Roc Marciano & The Alchemist

Roc Marciano & The Alchemist – “Deja Vu” (@RocMarci / @Alchemist / 2022)

Hypnotic, velour-smooth production and ice-cold slick talk from the duo’s forthcoming long-awaited album “The Elephant Man’s Bones” dropping on August 26th.

New Joint – Libretto & Vitamin D / Roc Marciano

Libretto & Vitamin D ft. Roc Marciano – “Rainy Nights” (LiquidBeat.BandCamp.Com / 2022)

Cali-rasied emcee Libretto trades rhymes with Strong Island’s Marcberg on this latest track to be lifted from the forthcoming Vitamin D-produced album “Rusty Bladez”.

New Joint – Real Bad Man / Meyhem Lauren / Roc Marciano

Real Bad Man ft. Meyhem Lauren & Roc Marciano – “Back On One” (RealBadMan.Com / 2022)

Animated visuals from the Cali-based clothing / production outfit’s new album “On High Alert Vol. 4” which also features The Alchemist, Evidence, Rome Streetz and more.

New Joint – Bronze Nazareth / Roc Marciano

Bronze Nazareth ft. Roc Marciano – “Survivor’s Vow” (@BronzeNazareth / 2021)

Detroit’s Bronze Nazareth delivers a heartfelt tribute to his late brother Kevlaar 7 from his Roc Marc-produced album “Ekphrasis”.

New Joint – Bronze Nazareth & Roc Marciano

Bronze Nazareth & Roc Marciano – “Crazy Horse” (BronzeNazareth.BandCamp.Com / 2021)

Taken from the album “Ekphrasis”.

New Joint – Bronze Nazareth & Roc Marciano

Bronze Nazareth & Roc Marciano – “The Precipice” (FatBeats.Com / 2021)

Detroit’s Bronze Nazareth delivers the first dose of rawness from his forthcoming album “Ekphrasis” which drops October 8th and is produced mainly by Roc Marciano.

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2020 (Part Five) – REKS / Verb T & Illinformed / Tracey Lee etc.

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

REKS – “T.H.I.N.G.S.” (GetOnDown.Com) – Massachusetts-based microphone fiend REKS has been one of the game’s most consistent emcees for the past twenty years.  This impressive release contained more powerful poetry from the skilled lyricist, delving deep into both personal experience and commentary on the world around us, with production from the likes of Nottz, Statik Selektah and Apollo Brown adding further weight to the thought-provoking bars.

Him Lo – “SLAPYAGODDAMNFACEOFF” (GrilchyParty.BandCamp.Com) – One-half of Philadelphia’s mighty Buze Bruvaz, lyrical brawler Him Lo dropped yet another fine selection of rugged, politically-incorrect Hip-Hop, packed with rambunctious, head-cracking rhymes and tough beats. A blend of fresh material and older cuts, this project proved that Lo’s style is timeless like a new pair of wheat-coloured Timberlands.

Verb T & Illinformed – “The Land Of The Foggy Skies” (High-Focus.Com) – A worthy follow-up to their 2015 collaboration “The Man With The Foggy Eyes”, UK duo Verb T and Illinformed delivered the goods once again, pairing creative, contemplative rhymes with mesmerizingly melancholy, jazz-influenced beats. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Verb’s multi-layered verses deserve to be studied in schools as they’re pure poetry.

Boom Bap Babies – “We’ll Fly” (BoomBapBabies.BandCamp.Com) – Birmingham, Alabama-based producer / emcee duo RyNea Soul and Shaun Judah mixed uplifting beats with life-affirming rhymes to clear your third-eye vision and vibrate your soul. This was feel-good Hip-Hop with a mission and a message.

Tracey Lee – “Glory” (TraceyLeeMusic.Com) – Veteran Philly emcee Tracey Lee proved that he hadn’t missed a beat since the release of his excellent 1997 debut album, sounding motivated and full of vitality on this Ojizz-produced project, drawing lyrical inspiration from both past experiences and present-day situations. Reflecting on lockdown life during the pandemic, social divisions and daily struggles, Lee injected his rhymes with an energy and spirituality which ultimately gave this album a real sense of hope and optimism.

Roc Marciano – “Mt. Marci” (Fat Beats) – A decade after the release of his game-changing solo album “Marcberg”, Strong Island’s Roc Marciano demonstrated that this underground king’s crown was showing no signs of slipping, with this latest collection of cool-but-deadly cuts boasting plenty of the influential artist’s vivid, larger-than-life wordplay and unique production.

DRS x Redeyes – “Coloured” (MCDRS.BandCamp.Com) – Inspired by the senseless murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed, Manchester’s DRS joined forces with French producer Redeyes to record seven tracks over seven days, dropping this powerful EP in July. Poignant and moving, this release was a world-weary work of art that questioned how racism and prejudice can still exist in a so-called ‘civilised’ society. Truly memorable music.

Rasheed Chappell & Buckwild – “Sinners and Saints” (GetOnDown.Com) – A brilliantly-matched partnership, this collabo album from New Jersey’s Rasheed Chappell and Diggin’ In The Crates legend Buckwild sounded like the work of an established duo. Observational, street-savvy rhymes met well-crafted, sample-based beats here, with the pair complimenting each other’s strengths and making some great music in the process.

Neak – “INNENSTADT” (Neak.BandCamp.Com) – Chicago’s Neak offered an engaging, emotionally-charged look at the realities of inner-city living on this largely self-produced release. With assistance from the likes of Philmore Greene, Rashid Hadee and Slot-A, the talented artist painted poignant portraits of the Windy City with a lyrical style that was both subtle and striking.

Arrested Development – “Don’t Fight Your Demons” (OfficialArrestedDevelopment.BandCamp.Com) – Atlanta’s Grammy award-winning collective returned with a timely dose of edutainment, featuring Speech offering soul-stirring opinions on a number of topics, including racism, mental health and mainstream Hip-Hop. With input from UK producer Configa, this album was rooted in the original essence of the Arrested Development sound but with some well-placed contemporary twists.

UFO Fev & Big Ghost Ltd – “The Ghost Of Albizu”  (GourmetDeluxxx.BandCamp.Com) – For his third release of the year, NY’s UFO Fev called on the formidable production skills of the mighty Big Ghost Ltd, with the pair crafting a vibrant example of underground brilliance. 2020 should definitely go down as the year Fev truly stamped his mark on the game, with the previous years of hard-work paying off and translating into a trio of projects that really hit the target.

Ka – “Descendants Of Cain” (BrownsvilleKa.Com) – Brooklyn’s Ka is like a Hip-Hop monk who every now and then comes down from his mountaintop monastery to bestow wisdom and greatness upon his followers, before once again retreating to an existence of meditation and solitude. This latest effort was a haunting collection of intricately-crafted verses packed with streetwise rhymes laced with tragedy, struggle and triumph. The time and hardwork Ka puts into his music is obvious, yet the end results appear effortless.

Benny The Butcher – “Burden Of Proof” (BennyTheButcherStore.Com) – When Griselda’s Butcher said on this album that 2019 was about branding but 2020 was about expanding, he wasn’t joking. The Buffalo trio of Westside Gunn, Conway and Benny had an incredible year, with the Hit Boy-produced “Burden Of Proof” arguably standing as the crew’s strongest release during that period. Benny’s swaggering, voice-of-experience rhymes highlighted both sides of the street game with sincerity, whilst Hit Boy’s production exceeded all expectations. The Butcher coming!

Breis – “Arise & Shine” (MrBreis.Com) – This EP from veteran London-based lyricist Breis was all about positive, uplifting vibes whilst still acknowledging real-life issues and personal struggles. Utilising a diverse selection of production styles from the likes of Keith Lawrence and Artcha, the lively emcee delivered the messages in his music with flair and originality.

Bub Styles x Ace Fayce – “Very Sucio, Muy Picante” (BubStylesBK.BandCamp.Com) – This album from NYC’s Bub Styles sounded like a late-night walk through the streets of Brooklyn to buy blunts from that store that’s always open and always has a crew of Polo-wearing hard-rocks posted up outside. Rough, rugged and raw, the gravel-voiced Styles pummelled Fayce’s moody production here, with the likes of Estee Nack, UFO Fev and Rome Streetz offering lyrical assistance.

Supreme Cerebral x D.Mar – “Soul Trained” (BugzyNino17.BandCamp.Com) – West Coast wordsmith Supreme Cerebral took aim at fellow Cali representative D.Mar’s vintage soul loops and unleashed a barrage of lyrical darts on this well-crafted album. Lush strings, emotionally-charged vocal samples and mellow vibes provided the perfect accompaniment to Cerebral’s razor-sharp delivery.

Untouchable$ – “Untouchable$” (NowaahTheFlood7.BandCamp.Com) – A potent collaboration between underground heavyweights Nowaah The Flood, Ca$ablanca, Kincee and Jay Holly, this Untouchable$ project was the sound of four skilled emcees building off the energy of one another and elevating their skills to even greater heights in the process. Featuring production from the likes of B-Sun, Kurse and Karnate, this project was a sonic monument to the art of lyricism.

LEX & Buck – “Let Go!” (LEXNYRE.BandCamp.Com) – A true student of the game, Queens, NY’s LEX returned with yet another quality project, this time produced by Cali-raised, New York-based music man Buck. LEX’s combination of relatable rhymes and streetwise bravado always makes you feel like you’re listening to one of your boys who’s passed through to kick it for a few, and the tone of this release was no different.

Revenge Of The Truence & Jack Diggs – “Midnight Run” (JackDiggs.BandCamp.Com) – Known for his crate-digging expertise, the UK’s Jack Diggs blessed NYC’s Revenge Of The Truence with an impeccable selection of atmospheric, late-night loops and head-nodding drums on this brilliant release. 2020 was a busy year for MuGGz and Tay Dayne, with the Harlem duo dropping a number of projects. But this gem definitely stood-out as one of their best.

eMCee Killa & Think – “Foreign Ties” (eMCeeKillaHipHop.BandCamp.Com) – No stranger to topical, hard-hitting lyricism, both in his work as a member of UK crew Caxton Press and his solo material, this album from London’s eMCee Killa provided more of the same, with Canadian producer Think supplying some uncompromisingly hardcore beats to bolster the fiery rhymes found here.

 

New Joint – Roc Marciano

Roc Marciano – “Garbage Pal Kids” (@RocMarci / 2020)

Stripped-down flyness off the Strong Island icon’s recent album “Mt. Marci”.

New Joint – Roc Marciano

Roc Marciano – “Downtown 81” (RocMarci.Com / 2020)

Smooth sonic drama from the Strong Island emcee’s latest album “Mt. Marci”.

New Joint – Iron Wigs / Roc Marciano

iron wigs cover

Iron Wigs ft. Roc Marciano – “Bally Animals & Rugbys” (MelloMusicGroup.BandCamp.Com / 2020)

Second drop off the forthcoming “Your Birthday’s Cancelled” collabo album from Chicago emcees Vic Spencer and Verbal Kent produced entirely by the UK’s Sonnyjim.

 

New Joint – XP The Marxman & IceRocks / Roc Marciano

XP The Marxman & IceRocks ft. Roc Marciano – “Open Doors” (XPTheMarxman.Com / 2020)

Mellow, piano-laced flavour from the West Coast / East Coast duo’s 2019 collabo album “Nomads”.

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.

 

roc cover

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.

nems cover

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.

joker starr cover

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 – Roc Marciano

Roc Marciano – “Tom Chambers” (@RocMarci / 2019)

Animated visuals from the Strong Island emcee’s new “Marcielago” album.

 

New Joint – Roc Marciano

Roc Marciano – “Richard Gear” (@RocMarci / 2019)

Mellow madness from the Strong Island emcee’s largely self-produced new album “Marcielago”.

New Joint – Pounds & Buckwild / Roc Marciano

pounds cover

Pounds & Buckwild ft. Roc Marciano – “The Garden” (@Pounds448 / 2019)

Rochester’s Pounds teams-up with Strong Island heavyweight Roc Marci to deliver some New York straight talk on this organ-driven cut off the forthcoming Buckwild-produced “Trafficante” project.

 

New Joint – Datkid & Leaf Dog / Roc Marciano

Datkid & Leaf Dog ft. Roc Marciano – “Scheme On” (@HighFocusUK / 2019)

The UK duo call on one of Strong Island’s finest for the third drop off their forthcoming collabo album “Confessions Of A Crud Lord”.