Shay D – “No Stress” (@ShayDRap / 2019)
The London-based emcee delivers motivational rhymes over melodic Micall Parknsun production off her impressive 2018 album “Human Writes”.
Shay D – “No Stress” (@ShayDRap / 2019)
The London-based emcee delivers motivational rhymes over melodic Micall Parknsun production off her impressive 2018 album “Human Writes”.
DJ Muggs & Roc Marciano – “KAOS” (SoulAssassins.Com) – Following the 2018 release of both “RR2” and “Behold A Dark Horse”, Roc Marci teamed-up with Cypress Hill’s Muggs to put together what resulted in being arguably the best of the three projects. Whilst Muggs’ dark trademark production style may not have seemed the first choice to fit with the Strong Island emcee’s laidback, conversational flow, the pair brought the best out of each other here, with the West Coast music man largely supplying Roc with a string of 70s soundtrack-style samples to lay his lyrical pimp-hand down on.
Evidence – “Weather Or Not” (Rhymesayers.Com) – The third solo album from Dilated Peoples member Evidence, this project found the West Coast emcee capturing an almost melancholy vibe, an observation which isn’t meant to sound negative at all. As down-to-earth as always, Evidence delivered his usual high-standard of blue-collar beats and rhymes, expertly mixing personal reflection with claims of lyrical dominance over production from the likes of The Alchemist, Nottz and DJ Premier. Let it rain!
Shay D – “Human Writes” (ShayDMusic.Com) – London-based emcee Shay D’s growth as an artist over recent years has been inspiring to witness, culminating in this project which is arguably her finest body-of-work to date, effectively blending spoken-word and rap, at times blurring the lines between Hip-Hop and grime with bold confidence. Painfully personal, proudly feminist and undeniably street-savvy, “Human Writes” stood as an artistic triumph which refused to be squeezed into the usual boxes female artists often find themselves confined to. Ladies first!
Knowledge The Pirate – “Flintlock” (Treasure Chest Entertainment / FXCKRXP.BandCamp.Com) – The Roc Marciano-affiliated Pirate has been moving behind-the-scenes within the music industry for years now, with the brilliant “Flintlock” finally giving the East Coast emcee the opportunity to captain his own sonic ship. Detailed hustler tales were delivered here with an understated suggestion of menace, matched perfectly by the soulful, drama-laced production of Elemnt, Roc Marc, Mushroom Jesus and Knowledge himself. Vivid, cinematic crime rhymes. Ahoy!
Juga-Naut – “Bon Vivant” (JugaNaut.BandCamp.Com) – Nottingham’s Juga-Naut is a craftsman with words. Next level talent. This impressive album showcased the UK emcee in all his larger-than-life lyrical glory, masterfully weaving confidently delivered verses with style and finesse around high-grade production from the likes of Cappo, Joe Buhdha and Jugz himself. There are some individuals who were just born to rhyme and “Bon Vivant” proved that Juga-Naut definitely falls into that category.
Ty Farris – “No Cosign Just Cocaine 2” (TyFarris.BandCamp.Com) – Street-wise swagger and lyrical dexterity collided on this project with memorable results, as Detroit’s Ty Farris navigated his way through beats from Trox, Stu Bangas and Foulmouth (to name just a few) with focus, purpose and a razor-sharp tongue.
Coops – “Life In The Flesh” (HighFocus.BandCamp.Com) – A thoroughly captivating and engrossing listening experience, this concept-based project from UK emcee Coops was a weighty mix of both style and substance. Produced entirely by the talented Talos, the album documented the London resident’s unique perspective on the struggles and challenges of modern-day life in Britain, showcasing the voice of an artist who is as spiritually-aware as he is socially-aware.
Benny The Butcher – “Tana Talk 3” (GriseldaxFR.Com) – Griselda’s Benny upped the ante on this epic project, following in the footsteps of artists such as Jay-Z and Scarface as he gave listeners the full spectrum of the street life experience, including the losses, betrayals and regrets. Backed by fittingly sombre production from Daringer and The Alchemist, Benny delivered a true masterpiece here.
Recognize Ali – “The Outlawed” (Greenfield Music / GourmetDeluxxx.BandCamp.Com) – Possessing a tireless work ethic, Ali has blazed his own trail through the underground in recent times with a string of consistently strong releases. This album found the Greenfield emcee once again demonstrating his formidable rhymes skills over production from the likes of Farma Beats, Big Ghost Ltd and Frank Grimes.
Daniel Son & Futurewave – “Pressure Cooker” (BrownBagMoney.BandCamp.Com) – Two of Canada’s finest Hip-Hop talents joined forces to craft this raw-yet-creative example of hardcore Hip-Hop, with the pair sharing an undeniable chemistry which ensured this album remained engaging throughout, as Daniel Son used the drum-heavy production of Futurewave for lyrical dart target-practice.
The Diceman – “The Power Of Now” (KingOfTheBeats.Com) – As a member of veteran Bronx crew The Legion, Dice’s Hip-Hop credentials are unquestionable. On this dope solo album, the Rotten Apple rhymer delivered rugged, witty rhymes over speaker-shaking boom-bap beats, resulting in an album that was grounded in golden-era traditions without sounding stuck in the past. The Bronx keeps creating it.
DJ Jazzy Jeff – “M3” (DJJazzyJeff215.BandCamp.Com) – Presenting the third and final instalment of his “Magnificent” album trilogy, Philly legend Jazzy Jeff gave listeners his usual high-quality trademark blend of Hip-Hop, soul and jazz on a project which was life-affirming, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining. With The Trinity (Rhymefest, Dayne Jordan and Uhmeer) bridging the generation gap on mic duties, “M3” offered sonic sustenance in today’s troubled times.
Black Thought – “Streams Of Thought Vol. 2” (Passyunk Productions / Human Re Sources) – Illadelph icon Black Thought is one of the greatest of all-time. That shouldn’t even be up for debate at this stage in his career. Showcasing his always on-point blend of street knowledge, social observations, life lessons and emcee bravado over loose, funky Salaam Remi-orchestrated soundscapes, Thought continued to set the standard for anyone claiming to be a lyricist.
Apollo Brown & Joell Ortiz – “Mona Lisa” (MelloMusicGroup.BandCamp) – Detroit producer Apollo Brown has made a career out of working with already impressive artists and being able to bring just that little bit more out of them (Skyzoo, Ras Kass, O.C. etc). Capturing Brooklyn’s Joell Ortiz at a potential crossroads following the Slaughterhouse split, “Mona Lisa” was the sound of an emcee taking stock of both his career and his life, world-weary but not bitter, experienced but not jaded, realistic but looking for a better tomorrow.
Nowaah The Flood & The Architect – “Trill Life Mathematiks” (NowaahTheFlood7.BandCamp.Com) – Texas-based wordsmith Nowaah was one of a crop of upcoming emcees who put their stamp on 2018 via a strong work ethic, quality music and genuine rhyme skills. Produced by the Bay Area’s Architect (of Homeliss Derilex fame), “Trill Life…” found Flood dropping street-based science and righteous rawness over a strong selection of impeccable beats.
Chuck D As Mistachuck – “Celebration Of Ignorance” (ChuckDAsMistachuck.BandCamp.Com) – Public Enemy’s Rhyme Animal returned to burn on this C-Doc-produced project with assistance from P.E. 2.0’s Jahi. Speaking his mind as always, Chuck D took the opportunity to address numerous political and social issues impacting Trump’s Amerikkka and beyond, proving that after thirty-plus years since his debut on wax, the Strong Island legend still doesn’t rhyme for the sake of riddling.
Hermit & The Recluse (Animoss & Ka) – “Orpheus vs. The Sirens” (BrownsvilleKa.Com) – Brooklyn’s master craftsman Ka took listeners on another lyrical odyssey with this concept-based project. Packed with rich imagery, Ka’s verses here were delivered with incredible skill, woven together by life experience and creative genius, complimented by the dramatic, emotionally-charged work of Cali producer Animoss.
Habitat – “617 Black Label” (HeavyLinks.BandCamp.Com) – Heavy Links member Habitat came correct on his second solo album, pulling together a number of talented producers (including Giallo Point, DJ Severe and CrabbMan) to deliver the boom-bap backbone he was looking for. Full of forthright rhymes and true-school attitude, this was another strong outing for the UK emcee.
Codenine & Grubby Pawz – “Auerbach’s Garden” (CityYardMusic.BandCamp.Com) – Backed by some of the smoothest production to be heard in 2018 courtesy of Grubby Pawz, Massachusetts-based microphone fiend Codenine cut through the mellow mood music on offer here with consistently impressive displays of sharp, intricately-woven wordplay.
Stanza Divan – “Poetry In Motion” (StanzaDivan.BandCamp.Com) – Although it was billed as a mixtape rather than an official album or EP release, this impressive offering from Leicester-based artist Stanza Divan needed to be included here, as the lyrical skill, content and conviction contained within “Poetry In Motion” doesn’t come along every day. Definitely an artist to watch in 2019.
Shay D – “Can’t Stand Still” (@ShayDRap / 2018)
Vivid, hard-hitting rhymes from the London emcee on this Nutty P-produced track lifted from the “Human Writes” album.
Shay D – “Gimme Dat” (@ShayDRap / 2018)
The London-based emcee’s Hip-Hop and grime influences collide with high-energy results on the latest track to be lifted from the forthcoming album “Human Writes”.
Shay D – “Suffragettes” (@ShayDRap / 2018)
The London-based lyricist puts the ladies first on this rowdy Nutty P-produced track from her forthcoming album “Human Writes”.
Shay D & Traum Diggs – “Avocados” (@ShayDRap / @TraumDiggs / 2017)
London-meets-NYC on this upbeat transatlantic collabo produced by Markie Foureyez.
Jaz Kahina, Shay D, Magic and Jam Baxter tear down a Messiah Kaeto-produced beat on Fubar Radio with MysDiggi and Sarah Love.
Shay D – “Keep Your Head Up High” (@ShayDRap / 2017)
Mellow vibes produced by Jimmy Logic and taken from the UK artist’s 2016 album “A Figure Of Speech”.
Check Part One here.
LEX – “Necessary” (LEXNYRE.BandCamp.Com) – This project from Queens, NY wordsmith LEX was an album rooted in the proud heritage of true-school Rotten Apple rap which effectively showcased the talented emcee’s dedication to both his craft and the culture of Hip-Hop.
Ray Vendetta & Calvert – “Calculated Vendettaz” (RayOfLight.BandCamp.Com) – Triple Darkness member Ray Vendetta joined forces with talented London-based producer Calvert for this brilliantly-executed example of intelligent, hardcore Hip-Hop. Packed with potent lyricism that ranged from the gritty to the humorous to the inspirational, “Calculated Vendettaz” captured the natural chemistry between Ray’s accomplished wordplay and Calvert’s sample-based beats, with features from UK heavyweights such as Iron Braydz, Tesla’s Ghost and Skriblah DanGogh.
ChrisJay – “The Day She Ran Away” (ChrisJayOnline.BandCamp.Com) – Canada’s ChrisJay delivered personal, heartfelt rhymes with a captivating blend of strength and vulnerability on this thoroughly engaging EP produced by Die-Rek and Cream Of Beats.
Vinnie Paz – “The Cornerstone Of The Corner Store” (Enemy Soil) – The third solo album from Jedi Mind Tricks front-man Vinnie Paz offered more gritty half-righteous, half-foul anthems from the Philly emcee, with production supplied by the likes of Buckwild, C-Lance and Psycho Les providing the project with an uncompromisingly hardcore sonic backbone.
Cryptic One – “The World According To…” (CrypticOne.BandCamp.Com) – The former Atoms Family member showcased his razor-sharp wordplay and worldly wit over a dope selection of self-produced beats on this succinct effort.
Killer Ben & Twiz The Beat Pro – “Invincible Ben” (DrumsetMusicWorks.BandCamp.Com) – This project from Durag Dynasty’s Killer Ben was one of the finest examples of quality lyricism you were likely to hear this year, as the West Coast-based wordsmith pounded Twiz’s impressive production with a non-stop barrage of high-velocity verbals.
Shay D – “A Figure Of Speech” (ShayD.BandCamp.Com) – Inbetween co-hosting a radio show on London’s Itch FM, running youth workshops and organizing live events, UK emcee Shay D found time to release this well-crafted project, powerfully combining social commentary, personal experience and artistic passion with striking results.
Common – “Black America Again” (Def Jam / ARTium) – Sounding determined, defiant and, perhaps most importantly, more focussed creatively than he has done in recent years, Chicago vet Common dropped this timely album inspired by the racial, political and social turmoil which dominated the US throughout 2016. Striking a balance between realism and optimism, this was music with a message which proved in no uncertain terms that the Windy City emcee still loves H.E.R.
REKS – “The Greatest X” (Brick Records) – With nothing on this epic 35-track project that could honestly be described as “throwaway”, Massachusetts microphone fiend REKS largely succeeded in conquering the double-album format which even icons such as 2Pac and Biggie struggled with. An endless stream of passionately-delivered verses paired with well-chosen production (Large Professor, Statik Selektah, Nottz etc) ensured the listener’s attention was maintained at all times. Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme, indeed.
OC From NC – “The Second Renaissance” (OCFromNC.BandCamp.Com) – Following-up 2015’s impressive “Higher Learning” project, North Carolina’s OC once again called on the services of production partner B Squared for “The Second Renaissance”, a quality combination of intelligent lyricism and soul-drenched boom-bap.
Ras Beats – “Control Your Own” (Worldwyde Recordings) – Featuring appearances from the likes of A.G., Roc Marciano and Sadat X, this project from NYC’s Ras Beats was a strong outing from a gifted producer who clearly wanted to add on to the legacy of traditional New York boom-bap rather than simply try to recreate what had come before him.
Soundsci – “Walk The Earth” (Global Expo) – The mighty Soundsci crew went global on their third full-length release, with the transatlantic troop once again delivering a fine selection of funky, intelligent Hip-Hop grounded in a genuine shared desire to help push the culture forward to a better place.
Beneficence – “Basement Chemistry” (Ill Adrenaline Records) – New Jersey representative and Ill Adrenaline co-founder Beneficence took it back to the golden-era with this solid boom-bap-driven album featuring appearances and production from the likes of Masta Ace, Chubb Rock, Da Beatminerz and more.
Ron Jon Bovi – “Neaux Mursi” (Elevation Nation) – Satisfying the appetite of lyric lovers everywhere across Planet Rock, this Unjust-produced collabo album from Hieroglyphics member Casual and Detroit’s Phat Kat found the pair sharing a chemistry that suggested the two lyricists had been rhyming together for years instead of merely the time it took to put this release together.
Loopwhole Beats – “Newyorkism II” (LoopwholeBeats.BandCamp.Com) – Atmospheric, 90s-influenced boom-bap from the NY producer featuring appearances from Brainsick Mob, Roc Marciano and Eastkoast.
The Cornel West Theory – “The T.A.B.L.E.” (TheCornelWestTheory.BandCamp.Com) – The Washington D.C. crew quickly followed-up their impressive 2015 opus “Coming From The Bottom” with an equally rewarding and intense listening experience in the form of “The T.A.B.L.E.”. Powered by a revolutionary spirit and anti-establishment attitude, this album went against the grain both sonically and lyrically, with the end product sounding all the better for it.
Libretto – “Gangsta Jazz Volume Two” (Liquid Beat) – As its title suggested, this long-player from Liquid Beat Records found the Watts, Los Angeles-raised Libretto mixing street-related rhymes with melodic loops, resulting in a project which boasted a throwback feel without getting lost in nostalgia.
King Draft – “Live Forever” (TheKingdomMusic.BandCamp.Com) – Effortlessly blending classic influences with contemporary flavours, North Carolina-based emcee King Draft delivered clever wordplay and verses of substance over the accomplished production of fellow Kingdom member Jerm Scorsese throughout this solo project.
Mr. Kinetik – “The Colors” (MrKinetik.BandCamp.Com) – Indianapolis-based artist Mr. Kinetik dropped dusty jazz vibes and intricate rhymes on this short-yet-impressive self-produced EP.
DSOTM – “The Echo Chamber” (DSOTM.BandCamp.Com) – Menace Mendoza, FlowTecs, Joey Menza and the rest of seven-man crew Dark Side Of The Moon spat raw rhymes over atmospheric production from the likes of Beat Butcha and Ringz Ov Saturn on this uncompromisingly hardcore UK opus.
Part Three coming soon.
Shay D – “A Figure Of Speech” (@ShayDRap / 2016)
Dos Gringos-produced title track from the London-based emcee’s recently-released album.
Shay D – “Brick City” (@ShayDRap / 2016)
Atmospheric production and poignant rhymes from the London emcee’s recent album “A Figure Of Speech”.
Shay D – “Set Her Free – DJ Mercury Remix” (@ShayDRap / @DJMercury1200 / 2016)
NY Hip-Hop vet DJ Mercury drops a new version of this poignant track from UK emcee Shay D’s recent album “A Figure Of Speech”.
Shay D – “I Love It” (@ShayDRap / 2016)
Colourful visuals for this passionate Chris Prythm-produced banger off the UK artist’s recent album “A Figure Of Speech”.
Shay D – “Get Money” (@ShayDRap / 2016)
More lyrical food for thought from the UK emcee’s forthcoming album “A Figure Of Speech”.
Shay D – “Set Her Free” (@ShayDRap / 2016)
The London-based lyricist takes a stand against domestic violence on this Cappah Beats-produced track off her forthcoming album “A Figure Of Speech”.
Shay D – “The Who, What, Why” (@ShayDRap / 2015)
Chairman Maf-produced food for thought from the UK artist’s forthcoming album “A Figure Of Speech”.
Shay D & DISL Automatic ft. DJ Shorty – “Justice For _____” (@ShayDRap / @DISL_Automatic / 2015)
London-meets-Chicago with the two emcees trading verses for this blistering attack on police corruption and brutality.
London-based online station Itch FM pulls together a selection of homegrown heads such as Mystro, Big Ted, Tony D and more to discuss the question ‘Is UK Hip-Hop Dead?’ with all involved displaying a variety of opinions.