Tag Archives: Roc Nation

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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100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2016 (Part Three) – Meyhem Lauren / J-Zone / Ghost etc.

Check Part One and Part Two.

Meyhem Lauren – “Piatto D’Oro” (Fools Gold Records) – Backed by production from beat kings such as Large Professor, DJ Muggs and The Alchemist, Queens, NY resident Meyhem Lauren continued to play his part in 2016 to ensure traditional rough, rugged and raw Rotten Apple rap stayed alive, with “Piatoo D’Oro” providing the perfect theme music for Timberland-and-Polo fiends across the globe.

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Si Phili – “The 11th Hour” (Phoenix Recordings) – Having already made an indelible mark on the UK Hip-Hop scene as a member of Phi Life Cypher, Luton lyricist Si Phili approached his debut solo album with both the experience of a seasoned mic vet and the hunger of a new artist with a point to prove. Featuring talented producers such as Pete Cannon, Leaf Dog and Richy Spitz, “The 11th Hour” found Phili unleashing a relentless barrage of intense wordplay, covering a variety of topics in the process.

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The Game – “1992” (Blood Money Entertainment) – Strip away the rap beefs, personal dramas and industry politics that have surrounded The Game’s career over the years and one thing remains undeniable – Jayceon Terrell Taylor can definitely rhyme. This concept-based project found the former Aftermath emcee revisiting early-90s Los Angeles via personal, descriptive verses with respectful nods to West Coast icons such as Ice-T, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. Compton is still in the house!

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J-Zone – “Fish-N-Grits” (J-Zone.BandCamp.Com) – Never afraid to tell-it-how-it-is, NYC’s multi-talented J-Zone once again offered listeners the opportunity to see the world through his own unique perspective on his latest full-length release, combining sharp observational humour with funky beats and Rotten Apple attitude. Dealing with topics such as rap’s generational debate, hipsters and gentrification, “Fish-N-Grits” was the perfect sonic antidote for the non-stop b.s. pushed daily from both the underground and mainstream Hip-Hop scenes. As Zone himself says, there’s only two types of music, good and bad.

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Royce 5’9 – “Layers” (Bad Half Entertainment) – Lead by the autobiographical brilliance of the S1-produced “Tabernacle”, Detroit veteran Royce’s sixth solo album was arguably his best body of work to date. Filled with unflinching honesty, sly wit and well-honed rhyme skills, “Layers” was a fitting title for a project which gave the listener further insight into the life of the man behind the mic.

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Akil The MC – “Sound Check” (AkilTheMC.BandCamp.Com) – Jurassic 5 member Akil filled this solo album with hard-hitting motivational music delivered in his traditional true-school style, effectively balancing his back-in-the-day roots with a present-day passion for the microphone.

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Mikey D’Struction – “Day Of D’Struction” (Elements Of Hip-Hop) – Largely produced by Russia’s Ligalize, this album from Queens legend Mikey D found the veteran emcee avoiding the temptation of trying to fit in with current rap trends in order to appeal to a wider audience, choosing instead to stick to his sonic guns, delivering sharp, battle-ready rhymes over hardcore, speaker-rattling beats.

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Black Josh – “Ape Tape” (BlahRecords,BandCamp.Com) – After first listening to Josh’s “Ape Tape” EP, one word came to mind – vibes! Boasting an organic, impromptu feel, this thoroughly entertaining release featured the UK artist lacing varied production with his sharp Manchester wit, politically-incorrect sense of humour and honest inner-city observations.

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Torae – “Entitled” (Internal Affairs Entertainment) – Backed by a successful Kickstarter campaign, this album from Brooklyn emcee Torae satisfied loyal fans by delivering the consistently high-standard of lyricism we’ve come to expect from the NY representative with quality production from heavy-hitters such as Pete Rock, DJ Premier and Nottz.

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Elzhi – “Lead Poison” (Glow 365) – After a five year hiatus and release date delays, Detroit’s Elzhi finally returned with an album that played like a sonic therapy session for the former Slum Village member, who had been battling with depression during the recording of the project. Clever, introspective and creative, “Lead Poison” showcased the results of a naturally gifted artist dealing with life’s problems through his pad and pen.

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Ruste Juxx & Kyo Itachi – “Meteorite” (Shinigamie Records) – Bolstered by the impeccable production of France’s Kyo Itachi, former Sean Price protégé Ruste Juxx went intergalactic like a Timberland-wearing Silver Surfer on this rugged gem of an album, transmitting direct from the planet of Brooklyn accompanied by Illa Noyz, Bankai Fam’s Skanks and Rock of Heltah Skeltah.

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Ghost – “Shards Of Memories” (Ghost.BandCamp.Com) – Ambitiously bridging the gap between the UK-raised, Australia-based producer’s underground Hip-Hop roots and his desire to craft something that reached beyond the traditional sound of dusty drums and head-nodding loops, “Shards Of Memories” was an impressive effort which was both polished and well-executed whilst also managing to retain a spontaneous, unpredictable edge.

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Trace Motivate – “Bored, Lonely And Possibly Intoxicated” (TraceMotivate.BandCamp.Com) – Stepping beyond the aggressive,  competition-crushing rhymes heard on releases from his group Grindhouse Project, Canada’a Trace Motivate offered personal reflection and honest life observations on this six-track concept-based release.

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Tribe Of Judah – “Organically Grown” (Gravity Academy Records) – Maryland’s Tribe Of Judah mixed political commentary and social observation with street-savvy Hip-Hop bravado on their impressive Tokyo Cigar-produced debut album.

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Rapsody – “Crown” (Jamla / Roc Nation) – Inspiring and passionate, North Carolina’s first lady of the mic Rapsody was on a mission to motivate her listeners with “Crown”, encouraging the younger generation in particular to reach for their goals via forthright rhymes delivered over soulful production from 9th Wonder, Nottz and Khrysis.

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PhybaOptikz – “Shades Of Alejandro” (PhybaOptikz.BandCamp.Com) – London’s PhybaOptikz delivered a smooth, atmospheric concept album under the guise of his alter-ego Alejandro, showcasing the UK producer-on-the-mic getting busy over an ill selection of hypnotic loops with assistance from Crate Divizion comrades Giallo Point and Vic Grimes.

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Arkatek & KelpiNINE – “Master Builder” (ArkatekMusic.BandCamp.Com) – Atlanta-based wordsmith Arkatek encouraged listeners to bring their third-eye vision into focus via well-crafted verses over drum-heavy production from KelpiNINE on this US / Ukraine collabo project.

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K Zorro & Bad Company – “Deferred Gratification” (NewGuardzOnline.BandCamp.Com) – Talented London emcee K Zorro dropped intelligent, captivating verses over atmospheric production from musical ally Bad Company on this collaborative project which was both streetwise and socially-aware.

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Sebastian Hochstein – “Name Dropping” (Illect.BandCamp.Com) – German producer Sebastian Hochstein called on the likes of Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na, Sadat X and Scribbling Idiots to provide lyrical support on this impressive EP, a release which was rooted in a dusty, sample-based sound.

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Tha God Fahim & Giallo Point – “Eyes Of War” (Crate Divizion) – Atlanta’s Fahim spat righteous rawness over the brilliant, gripping production of UK music man Giallo Point on this quality Crate Divizion release.

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Part Four coming soon.

Rap’s New Generation – J. Cole

Funkmaster Flex interview with newcomer J. Cole.

Code Of The Streets – Jay-Z

Jigga speaks on his forthcoming book “Decoded” in Miami.

I Made It – Jay-Z / Tim Westwood

Audio of Tim Westwood talking to Jigga about his early days in the game, being an ambassador for Hip-Hop culture in corporate America, and performing at Glastonbury this coming weekend.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

 

Spit Game – Young Chris

Young Chris talks to HeavySpittersTV about signing with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label, his forthcoming album and his new video “Never Die”.