The Almighty $amhill – “Unconditional Love” (@MoeMiller96 / 2022)
The talented Bronx emcee gets up-close-and-personal on this latest track.
The Almighty $amhill – “Unconditional Love” (@MoeMiller96 / 2022)
The talented Bronx emcee gets up-close-and-personal on this latest track.
The Almighty $amhill – “Peace Is Pu**y” (@MoeMiller96 / 2022)
The Bronx is back! NY’s $amhill delivers his trademark brand of direct rhymes on this new track lifted from his forthcoming EP release.
The Bronx emcee delivers hard-knock rhymes on this latest track.
The Almighty $amhill – “X’s Up” (@MoeMiller96 / 2020)
The Bronx emcee represents for his home borough on this Triple X / Minnesota-produced track.
Moe Miller Presents · X’s Up [prod. by Triple X & Minnesota]
The Almighty $amhill – “D.A.D.D.Y.” (@MoeMiller96 / 2020)
The talented Bronx emcee makes a welcome return, leaking a rough version of this typically forthright Tre Trax-produced cut, with the finished track due to feature on a forthcoming $amhill EP.
The Almighty $amhill – “Who’s The Boss?” (@MoeMiller96 / 2018)
The always-impressive Bronx emcee drops a heavy dose of New York straight talk.
The Almighty $amhill – “Social Media” (@MoeMiller96 / 2018)
The Bronx emcee gives his thoughts on friend requests, DMs and selfies with this Chopz Da Beatz-produced cut off his forthcoming EP “Fort Apache”.
So here we are again. Another year has come to an end. Time to look back over the last twelve months and give my traditional round-up of the beats and rhymes I had in heavy rotation throughout 2017.
It’s never easy putting ‘best-of’ lists together. Regardless of how many releases are included, it’s impossible to compile something like this without always feeling like you’re having to leave something out. But this year has been particularly difficult, given the sheer amount of quality Hip-Hop that has been released over the past 365 days.
In addition to the albums and EPs that actually made it into this five-part overview, there was approximately a further fifty included on my initial short-list, but you have to draw the line somewhere.
So, whilst there will no doubt be projects not featured here that some will feel should have been mentioned, those that made the cut have been selected based purely on being one of the releases I listened to (and enjoyed) the most throughout 2017.
That being said, huge props to every emcee, producer and deejay out there making music that comes from a genuine place of creativity and artistic integrity – your efforts are appreciated by Hip-Hop heads across Planet Rock.
But now, like we always do about this time….
Melanin 9 – “Old Pictures” (Red Snow Records) – A decade after the release of his debut project “High Fidelity”, Triple Darkness member Melanin 9 delivered arguably his best body of solo work to date. A personal, introspective walk through the experiences, struggles and memories of the London-based lyricist, “Old Pictures” found M9 matching his impressive verses with fittingly mellow, laidback soundscapes from producers such as Ohbliv, Wun Two and Anatomy. Timeless beats and rhymes.
O.C. – “Same Moon Same Sun: 1st Phase” (D.I.T.C. Studios) – One of the greatest emcees of all-time, Diggin’ In The Crates legend Omar Credle personified the term ‘grown man business’ on his seventh solo album, offering an assured blend of social commentary, life observations and lyrical bravado, proving that truly talented artists never lose their importance or relevance in the rap game.
Trauma 74 – “The God Given Image” (Evil Twin Records) – The result of a life-long passion for Hip-Hop that began in the early-80s, this debut album from UK emcee Trauma 74 was clearly a labour of love. Grounded in true-school traditions and creative integrity, “The God Given Image” was packed with accomplished wordplay and soulful boom-bap beats, resulting in a project that any fellow Hip-Hop junkie could appreciate and relate to.
Strizzy Strauss – “The Art Of Summarising Life” (IAmStrizzyStrauss.BandCamp.Com) – The upcoming Leicester-based lyricist definitely made his mark on the homegrown scene in 2017 with this impressive EP, full of personal, heartfelt verses delivered with street-savvy sensitivity and a sharp social awareness. Honest, life-affirming and inspirational, “The Art Of…” showcased the voice of an artist clearly keen to inject his music with substance as well as style.
Milano Constantine – “The Way We Were” (Different Worlds Music Group) – A tribute to the New York of yesteryear, Diggin’ In The Crates affiliate Milano utilised the top-notch, drum-heavy production of DJ Skizz and Marco Polo to reminisce about old-school fashion trends, graffiti-covered subway trains and wild nights at the Latin Quarter throughout this release, drawing on both the youthful energy of 80s Hip-Hop and the volatile Rotten Apple environment of the time for inspiration.
Roc Marciano – “Rosebudd’s Revenge” (Marci Enterprises) – The Strong Island representative gave the game yet another back-handed pimp slap in the form of his fourth solo album, a cool-but-deadly collection of cold-blooded, elegantly-delivered rawness, evoking images of 70s Blaxploitation flicks and golden-era NY Hip-Hop in equal measures. Fresh, fly and bold.
Brother Ali – “All The Beauty In This Life” (Rhymesayers Entertainment) – Long-established as one of Hip-Hop’s most inspiring and warm-hearted artists, Minneapolis’s Brother Ali dropped a truly fitting Ant-produced soundtrack to today’s troubled times, drawing inspiration from both personal situations and global issues as he encouraged listeners to find meaning and purpose in their lives, despite the struggles and hardships we each face on a daily basis.
Funky DL – “Marauding At Midnight” (Washington Classics) – Multi-talented UK artist Funky DL paid tribute to the musical genius of A Tribe Called Quest with this inspired instrumental remake of the Queens crew’s classic 1993 album “Midnight Marauders”. Achieving the difficult balance of staying faithful to ATCQ’s jazzy, low-end aesthetic whilst allowing his own musical personality to shine through, DL proved himself to be both a student and master of the production game throughout this ambitious release.
Saipher Soze – “Godbody” (SaipherSoze.BandCamp.Com) – Rough, rugged and raw flavour from the Toronto emcee packed with razor-sharp rhymes and quality beats, this Finn-produced album found Soze cementing his position as one of the most skilled microphone fiends to have emerged from the Canadian underground in recent times.
Dillon & Diamond – “Black Tie Affair” (FullPlate.BandCamp.Com) – Successful in their promise of crafting “sophisticated rap music”, Atlanta-based emcee Dillon and Diggin’ In The Crates giant Diamond D mixed the rough with the smooth on this five-track EP, resulting in a polished listening experience which still bore the musical marks of dusty fingerprints.
Sons Phonetic – “Deloreans” (SonsPhonetic.BandCamp.Com) – Atmospheric, captivating beats and rhymes from Ireland’s mighty Sons Phonetic crew, with “Deloreans” proving once again why the multi-faceted collective can lay claim to being one of the most consistent groups in the game.
The Almighty $amhill – “The Epilogue” (LowTechRecords.BandCamp.Com) – Bronx native $amhill delivered more of his unapologetically raw street-smart lyricism on this quality EP release, a potent dose of gritty NY flavour direct from the birthplace of Hip-Hop produced largely by the talented Preservation.
Es – “We Are Only Getting Older” (EsMuzik.BandCamp.Com) – Canadian lyricist Es followed up his brilliant 2014 album “Aspire To Inspire” with the equally impressive “We Are Only Getting Older”, a concept-based project dealing with Hip-Hop’s generation gap, featuring production from IV The Polymath, Rel McCoy, Kelpi Nine and more.
Eloh Kush & BudaMunk – “Fly Emperor” (AnglezInc.BandCamp.Com) – Backed by the melodic, drum-heavy production of Japan’s BudaMunk, New Jersey’s Eloh Kush mixed streetwise attitude with vividly creative wordplay on this impressive long-player.
The Cornel West Theory – “The T.A.B.L.E. Too” (TheCornelWestTheory.BandCamp.Com) – Washington D.C.’s Cornel West Theory continued to go against the grain on their fifth album release, a collection of radio-unfriendly soundscapes and challenging, thought-provoking lyrics.
Creestal – “Differences” (MunchieRecords.BandCamp.Com) – Talented French producer Creestal (of CM Jones fame) dug deep in his crates for this sample-driven collection of dusty flavours featuring Roc Marciano, Conway, Torae and more. Blending together raw drums, obscure loops and random film dialogue, “Differences” was a masterclass in sonic creativity.
J Scienide – “The Actual Heat” (JSciende-OfficialCrateMusic.BandCamp.Com) – Washington D.C.-based artist J Scienide delivered his highly-anticipated album “The Actual Heat”, an accomplished collection of sample-based beats and intelligent, witty wordplay, with the likes of Grap Luva, Kev Brown and Nolan The Ninja making notable appearances on what was easily one of 2017’s best releases.
Da Buze Bruvaz – “Adebisi Hat” (Grilchy Party) – Run and DMC. Rae and Ghost. Billy Danze and Lil Fame. The key to a great rap duo is chemistry. Philly’s Him-Lo and Clever One can add themselves to that list. The Lo-Life-affiliated pair have dropped plenty of worthwhile material over the years, but this full-length effort upped the hardcore ante, with the true-school twosome verbally bullying top-drawer production with their trademark brand of boisterous, politically-incorrect punchlines.
MC Eiht – “Which Way Iz West” (Blue Stamp Music / Year Round Records) – Approximately two years after West Coast legend MC Eiht announced his next album would be backed by DJ Premier, the project finally saw a release. Thankfully, “Which Way…” lived up to expectations. With Eiht solidifying his OG status throughout, this long-player deservedly found itself being heralded as a standout dose of Cali attitude. Compton’s still in the house. Geeah!
Children Of Zeus – “The Story So Far…” (First Word Records) – Manchester’s Konny Kon and Tyler Daley have been blessing a cult following with sonic gems for some time now, but 2017 was the year the talented pair’s unique brand of soulful, Hip-Hop-influenced music started to reach a wider audience and receive the acclaim it deserved. This compilation pulled together both previously-released tracks and new material from the UK duo, paving the way for the official Zeus debut album due for release in 2018.
Check Part Two here.
Posted in Album Reviews, Canadian Hip-Hop, East Coast Hip-Hop, UK Hip-Hop, West Coast Hip-Hop
Tagged Adebisi Hat, All The Beauty In This Life, Angelz Inc, Black Tie Affair, Blue Stamp Music, Brother Ali, Budamunk, Canadian Hip-Hop, Children Of Zeus, Creestal, Da Buze Bruvaz, Deloreans, Diamond D, Differences, Different Worlds Music Group, Dillon, DITC Studios, DJ Skizz, East Coast Hip-Hop, Eloh Kush, Es, Es Muzik, Evil Twin Records, First Word Records, Fly Emperor, Full Plate, Funky DL, Godbody, Grilchy Party, Independent Hip-Hop, J Scienide, Konny Kon, LowTech Records, M9, Marauding At Midnight, Marci Enterprises, Marco Polo, MC Eiht, Milano Constantine, Munchie Records, O.C., Official Crate Music, Old Pictures, Red Snow Records, Rhymesayers Entertainment, Roc Marciano, Rosebudd's Revenge, Saipher Soze, Same Moon Same Sun, Sons Phonetic, Strizzy Strauss, The Actual Heat, The Almighty $amhill, The Art Of Summarising Life, The Cornel West Theory, The Epilogue, The God Given Image, The Story So Far, The T.A.B.L.E. Too, The Wat We Were, Trauma 74, Tyler Daley, UK Hip-Hop, Underground Hip-Hop, Washington Classics, We Are Only Getting Older, West Coast Hip-Hop, Which Way Iz West
The Almighty $amhill – “The Epilogue” (@MoeMiller96 / 2017)
Title track from the Bronx emcee’s latest EP available here via Lowtech Records.
Bronx native $amhill delivers more of his unapologetically raw street-smart lyricism on his latest EP release, a potent dose of gritty NY flavour direct from the birthplace of Hip-Hop.
The Almighty $amhill – “Ali” (@MoeMiller96 / 2016)
Produced by Chop Da Beatz and taken from the Bronx emcee’s forthcoming “Fort Apache” EP.
Check Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four.
DJ Lord Ron & Wildelux – “The Sinister Theory” (String Note Recordings) – West Coast producer Lord Ron joined forces with Bronx-born emcee Wildelux for this raw, concise lesson in quality boom-bap-driven Hip-Hop. The quality, sample-heavy beats supplied by Ron provided the perfect musical backdrop for ‘Lux’s take-no-prisoners lyrical approach, with the skilled wordsmith displaying a relentless verbal vigour as he offered his thoughts on a variety of topics. Salute!
MKV & Concept – “Dreams & Reality” (Essenchill Records) – Chicago-born, Pittsburgh-based emcee MKV took full advantage of New Zealand producer Concept’s soulful, drum-heavy musical style on this mellow-yet-captivating EP. Sharing his hopes, regrets and personal memories throughout this release, MKV exorcised some personal demons whilst encouraging listeners to make the most out of life. Motivational true-school beats and rhymes.
John Robinson & PVD – “Modern Vintage” (Brick Records) – A potent combination of present-day technology and old-school musical equipment, this joint effort from veteran NY emcee John Robinson and composer / producer Pat Van Dyke lived up to its title with plenty of style and creativity. Celebrating the potential music has to be timeless, organic and powerful, the pair drew inspiration from old-school Hip-Hop, jazz and soul to deliver an uplifting collection of positive vibes.
Men Of Many Crowns – “Men Of Many Crowns” (MenOfManyCrowns.Com) – San Diego duo MoodSwingKing and W. Steele mixed razor-sharp lyricism and soul-drenched production with West Coast sensibilities on this confidently-delivered project, further proving that the artists currently ruling the mainstream don’t always deserve to wear the crown.
The Kingdom – “No Rest In The Kingdom” (TheKingdomMusic.BandCamp.Com) – Based in North Carolina but originally from New Jersey and Pennsylvania respectively, emcee King Draft and producer Jerm Scorcese dropped one of the most accomplished debuts of the year with “No Rest In The Kingdom”. Lyrical food-for-thought and melodic soundscapes meshed together perfectly, taking the listener on a unique and intoxicating sonic journey. Plus, anyone who samples Art Of Noise’s 80s classic “Moments In Love” always gets props over here.
PRhyme – “PRhyme” (PRhyme Records) – Based around samples from the catalogue of LA music man Adrian Younge, this collabo album from the mighty DJ Premier and Detroit mic vet Royce Da 5’9 could only have resulted in quality music. Packing each track with endless punchlines and clever references, Royce provided numerous rewind-worthy verses throughout the project, whilst Primo worked magic behind the boards and gave his traditional boom-bap sound an interesting twist.
Verb T – “Medicated Dreams” (High Focus Records) – Since his debut on wax back in the early 2000s, UK emcee Verb T has consistently stood out from the crowd with his distinctive delivery, dry wit and unique worldview. On this sonic prescription, the Four Owls member administered multi-layered verses packed with self-reflection over down-tempo, self-produced beats. A musical remedy to the stresses of everyday life.
Your Old Droog – “Your Old Droog” (Droog Recordings) – Once the dust had settled and (almost) everyone had gotten over the Nas / mistaken identity episode, one thing remained crystal clear – this upcoming NY emcee could really rap. This compilation-style project pulled together previously-heard material and unreleased gems, with Droog effortlessly rhyming circles around the competition. Proving himself to be a genuine talent in his own right, Your Old Droog definitely wasn’t about to spend a second longer standing in someone else’s shadow. Even if that someone was the dude who recorded “Illmatic”.
Planet Asia & TzariZM – “Via Satellite” (Doxside Music Group / Gold Chain Music) – Broadcasting live and direct from Planet Rock, Florida-based producer TzariZM blessed underground West Coast icon Planet Asia with a heavy-duty selection of speaker-rattling beats for this collaborative effort. A weighty combination of skillful lyricism and uncompromising production, “Via Satellite” was received loud and clear by Hip-Hop heads wherever they resided. Do not attempt to adjust your dial.
Rozewood – “The Beautiful Type” (Working Class Music) – Like a Hip-Hop soundtrack to the best blaxploitation flick never made, “The Beautiful Type” found NY-raised lyricist Rozewood delivering a barrage of cool-but-deadly street knowledge wrapped up in intricate wordplay, all cushioned by the plush soundscapes of Atlanta producer Illastrate. With regular collaborators Hus Kingpin and SmooVth on-hand to offer support, Rozewood lived up to the promise displayed on prior releases such as “The Ghost Of Radio Raheem” and singled himself out as a talent to watch in 2015.
Chairman Maf – “Paint” (ChairmanMaf.BandCamp.Com) – Following up 2013’s brilliant “1976” project, UK producer Chairman Maf crafted another stimulating collection of instrumental flavours for this latest sonic endeavor. Combining his ear for both melody and quality samples with a clear passion for dusty drums, the Sheffield sound man splashed a variety of sonic moods over his canvas throughout “Paint”, allowing the listener to conjure up a number of pictures in their minds-eye as the album unfolded.
Omniscence – “The God Hour” (Gentleman’s Relief Records) – With his shelved 1996 debut “The Raw Factor” finally being given a welcome release in 2014, North Carolina punchline-king Omniscence proved he still deserved the title of the Funky One-Liner by coming back like he forgot something with this EP of new material. Produced entirely by Australia’s Debonair P, “The God Hour” featured the talented lyricist shooting the gift over quality, head-nodding beats. True indeed!
Kev Brown & Hassaan Mackey – “That Grit” (Ill Adrenaline Records) – 2014 was definitely a busy year for Kev Brown, with the DMV producer-on-the-mic dropping a second project on the Ill Adrenaline imprint, this time offering Rochester, NY lyricist Hassaan Mackey his trademark brand of boom-bap. With the likes of yU, Kenn Starr and Grap Luva all delivering noteworthy appearances on the mic device, “That Grit” had the organic feel of a back-in-the-day freestyle tape, with both Mackey’s witty wordplay and Brown’s sublime beats remaining on-point at all times.
A.Y.E. – “90 Now” (Makebelieve Records) – The idea of a young twenty-something artist paying homage to a decade that had ended before he’d hit his teens may not sit particularly well with some 90s purists. But when that idea is executed as well as it was on this release from Canadian emcee A.Y.E., it’s hard to deny the flavour. Effectively capturing the traditional mid-90s East Coast sound, complete with heavy drums, echoing horns and hypnotic keys, this self-produced project also found A.Y.E. coming correct with the rhymes, whether referencing golden-era artists or commenting on the world around him. Old-school, new-school, no school rules.
Bronze Nazareth – “Thought For Food Vol. 3” (Black Day In July Productions) – Detroit-based Wu-Tang affiliate Nazareth offered listeners his usual mix of the raw and the righteous with this latest hardcore onslaught. Blending grimy beats and classic soul samples, the Motor City producer-on-the-mic created music that sounded like sun-rays shining through inner-city alleyways.
SilentSomeone – “I Have Company” (Peasant Podium Music) – Bronx producer SilentSomeone demonstrated his talent behind the boards to great effect on this quality collection of underground jewels. Featuring the likes of Sadat X, John Robinson and Tame One, “I Have Company” ranged from boisterous big-beat brilliance to the hypnotically haunting, with SilentSomeone putting his own sonic stamp on each track, lifting the album head-and-shoulders above similar producer-based projects.
Swamp Thing – “Outer Limits” (URBNET) – Canadian rap astronauts Timbuktu, Chokeules and Savilion attempted to travel at magnificent speeds around the universe on “Outer Limits”, joined by Ghettosocks, D-Sisive and Wordburglar. A rocket-fuelled blast of sci-fi-inspired beats and rhymes, this long-player fully engaged the imagination thanks to the crew’s intriguing, out-of-this-world rhymes. Space is the place!
The 1978ers – “People Of Today” (Mello Music Group) – In a modern-day world of social detachment, rampant consumerism and media manipulation, the eclectic music found on this album from DMV duo yU and Slimkat encouraged listeners to retain a positive sense of self, overcome obstacles and reach for their goals. Laced with positive sentiments grounded in personal experience and intelligent thinking rather than simple self-righteousness, “People Of Today” uplifted your spirit at the same time as it made your head nod.
Gee Bag – “Show And Tell” (Starch Records) – Combining a strong personality with his tell-it-like-it-is lyrical approach and undeniable passion for Hip-Hop, UK artist Gee Bag demonstrated real character on the microphone throughout “Show And Tell”, blessing producer Downstroke’s selection of beats with humorous punchlines, infectious hooks and everyday observations. Show and tell? With this release the South London lyricist showed and proved.
The Almighty $amhill – “The $amhill Story” (Aaron Michael Entertainment) – Bursting through the back door just as 2014 was coming to an end, NY emcee $amhill dropped this up-close-and-personal autobiographical masterpiece full of raw, honest rhymes and quality production from the likes of Minnesota, RTNC and Molecules. Proving that the Bronx still keeps creating it, “The $amhill Story” was a timeless body of work rooted in the tradition of golden-era Rotten Apple rap.
Posted in Album Reviews, Canadian Hip-Hop, East Coast Hip-Hop, UK Hip-Hop, West Coast Hip-Hop
Tagged 90 Now, A.Y.E., Brick Records, Bronze Nazareth, Canadian Hip-Hop, Chairman Maf, Debonair P, DJ Lord Ron, Dreams & Reality, East Coast Hip-Hop, Essenchill Records, Gee Bag, Gentleman's Relief Records, Gold Chain Music, High Focus Records, I Have Company, Ill Adrenaline Records, Independent Hip-Hop, John Robinson & PVD, Kev Brown & Hassaan Mackey, Makebelieve Records, Medicated Dreams, Mello Music Group, Men Of Many Crowns, MKV & Concept, Modern Vintage, No Rest in The Kingom, Omniscence, Outer Limits, PAINT, Peasant Podium Music, People Of Today, Planet Asia, PRhyme, Rozewood, Show And Tell, SilentSomeone, Southern Hip-Hop, Starch Records, String Note Recordings, Swamp Thing, That Grit, The $amhill Story, The 1978ers, The Almighty $amhill, The Beautiful Type, The God Hour, The Kingdom, The Sinister Theory, Thought For Food Vol. 3, TzariZM, UK Hip-Hop, Underground Hip-Hop, Urbnet, Verb T, Via Satellite, West Coast Hip-Hop, Wildelux, Working Class Music, Your Old Droog
Bronx emcee $amhill drops his long-awaited album “The $amhill Story” just in-time to kick-start 2015 and has made the project available for free download until January 5th.
Featuring production from the likes of Minnesota, RTNC and The Legion’s Molecules, with the UK’s Lewis Parker on mastering duties to make sure those beats thump, “The $amhill Story” is a raw, timeless mix of personal experiences, street observations, blunt humour and Rotten Apple attitude.
The overall vibe of the album is best described by $amhill himself on the Chop Da Beatz-produced “The Benches” – “You gotta understand, we from the Bronx, man…We represent, like, a different type of sound and era…”
Download “The $amhill Story” here.
With his full-length debut “The $amhill Story” dropping imminently, the Bronx emcee teams-up with Chopped Herring Records to release his 2013 digital EP “The Preface” on limited vinyl with production from Preservation, Dave Dar and RTNC, plus the UK’s Lewis Parker on mastering duties.
Those of you out there who keep your ear close to the gritty Hip-Hop underground will no doubt already be familiar with Bronx-bred emcee The Almighty $amhill.
Making a memorable contribution to the P Brothers’ 2008 album “The Gas” alongside the likes of Milano Constantine and Roc Marciano, the Rotten Apple representative has also dropped a number of impressive street tracks whilst working on various official projects, mixing his honest and unapologetically raw approach to lyricism with rugged, soul-drenched production.
Having recently released his free EP project “The Preface” via Unkut.Com, the East Coast talent is currently putting the finishing touches to his debut album “The $amhill Story” which is scheduled to drop this summer and promises more of the wordsmith’s trademark New York straight talk.
Whilst $am was taking a break from the lab, I threw him a selection of my own personal favourite tracks to have emerged from the birthplace of Hip-Hop to see what memories, thoughts and opinions they may provoke.
The Bronx is back…
Ultramagnetic MC’s – “Ego Trippin'” (Next Plateau Records /1986)
$amhill: “That s**t was crazy! What’s funny about Ultramagnetic MC’s is that them dudes is from my neighbourhood. Some them is from 159th Street & Washington and 3rd Avenue. I remember I used to see Ced Gee over there all time as a little boy. I would hear “Ego Trippin'” at the jams in the park and people would lose their minds. What was crazy though, was that dudes like Ultramagnetic were people I’d see in the community before I saw them on TV or anything like that. You’d see them around and people would be like, ‘Yo, that’s the dude from Ultramagnetic MC’s.’ So for me to then see them on Video Music Box after that was kinda bugged out. But that song was so dope to me because of that f**kin’ beat. It was just so knockin’! The drums were crazy and then that piano came in. That song was literally magnetic. It drew you to it. If you were a music head then you were drawn to “Ego Trippin'” not just because of the s**t that they were saying on there, but how they were saying it over that beat. That song made you want to move. I mean, Hip-Hop back then was like how soul music used to be, where you felt it from the inside first. What also bugged me out about that record was that when I first heard it, it kinda seemed like they were going at Run DMC with the lines about Peter Piper. I remember listening to that as a little boy thinking, ‘Hold on?! Are they shi**ing on Run DMC?!’ (laughs) It was songs like “Ego Trippin'” that made me realise that I like my music hardcore.”
Boogie-Down Productions – “The Bridge Is Over” (B-Boy Records / 1987)
$amhill: “I was a little boy when that record came out, man. That was one of those songs I’d hear when they used to have the jams in the park and everyone would bring their s**t out and plug into the street-light. But man, when that beat would come on with that piano, that s**t would be pandemonium. I had two older sisters and a brother and they would take me to the jams and I’d break away from them just acting crazy in the park taking it all in. I was young at the time and I didn’t really understand that KRS was beefin’ with Marley Marl and them, but the overall feel of that record was incredible. It was only after I saw the video on Video Music Box and then started to listen to Marley Marl and Red Alert on the radio that I realised what was happening with them.
But that song was so powerful because it was representing where we were from and it was also letting people know that Hip-Hop started in The Bronx and you’ll respect that or we’ll run right through you. With me growing-up in Hip-Hop, I had to recognise that that song was monumental. I mean, KRS was really disrespecting people on “The Bridge Is Over” (laughs).
I was in elementary school when that song dropped and rap was the consistent topic everyday that everyone would be talking about. So off of us talking about “The Bridge Is Over”, I also started to learn more about MC Shan, Craig G, Roxanne Shante and other people that were doing this music in other places. So I had to recognise that there were other people doing Hip-Hop in other parts of New York City. But from that moment right there I’ve always loved KRS-One as an emcee. I mean, he was born in Brooklyn but he’s always represented The Bronx and seeing him do that back then let me know early on that you have to represent where you’re from in this rap s**t and really be proud of it.”
Just-Ice – “Going Way Back” (Fresh Records / 1987)
$amhill: “That record is a classic. Around the time that “Going Way Back” came out the park jams were slowly dying down in The Bronx because people were getting killed and there’d always be something going on like a shootout. So the jams in the park were really getting shut down. So now you’d be hearing records first on the radio with Mr. Magic’s show and Red Alert and then a couple of weeks later Ralph McDaniels would be playing the video on Video Music Box.
Now, the thing with Just-Ice is that he was a street ni**a. He’s a dude that would handle what he needed to handle in his own way. A lot of people didn’t know that about Just-Ice then unless you were from The Bronx. But to hear him on that record talking about how he was there when certain things happened in The Bronx, Zulu Nation, this, that and a third, it really felt like he was teaching me and putting me onto some s**t that I really didn’t know about. But that record was so hardcore and Just-Ice always used to wear those leather rasta hats which he had on in the video. The part I always remember is when Just-Ice says ‘Yo KRS! What’s the purpose of you stopping me?’ (laughs).
The beat to that song was so strong and his voice was so aggressive but at the same time he was teaching me. It reminded me in some ways of someone like a Farrakhan, because he was always very aggressive in delivering his lessons. I learnt from listening to Farrakhan that if you’re not aggressive in the way you deliver your message then a lot of people won’t take you seriously. So when Just-Ice was telling me on “Going Way Back” about certain blocks and how if you don’t know what happened with this person then you wasn’t there, I had to listen to him because he was both commanding and demanding your attention. He was giving you a history lesson that you had to pay attention to.”
Tim Dog – “F**k Compton” (Ruffhouse Records / 1991)
$amhill: “That record had a major impact on me and my whole entire neighbourhood because Tim Dog lived just a couple of buildings away from me. But the funny s**t about that is that I didn’t actually know that then (laughs). I guess the older dudes I was hanging around with already knew Tim Dog from around the way and of course he already had the Ultra affiliation. But when that song came out it was wild aggressive, it was ignorant, it was disrespectful, and we loved it (laughs). We loved everything about it. But at first it confused me why he was dissing certain people on that record because I f**ked with N.W.A.. I loved aggressive, hardcore sounding s**t and at the time N.W.A. was the epitome of that type of style and the way they were coming with it was just so real. I mean, back then, as a little boy I used to think rappers like the Geto Boys and N.W.A . would really come to my mother’s house and kill everybody there (laughs). Like, seeing the video to N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton” I thought Ice Cube was going to bust through the TV screen and kill somebody. Then when Tim Dog came out and was like ‘F**k them! This is where I’m from and this is what I’m about’ I was like, ‘Yooooo! Hold on, man Who is this?’
I mean, I wasn’t taking sides or none of that, but Tim Dog was really staking his claim and it was hot! I remember buggin’ out how he dissed Michel’le like that because it was just so uncalled for (laughs). I also remember buggin’ over how he actually came on the record with ‘Awwww shit…’ I was like, ‘How do you just come on a record with ‘Awwww shit…’?’ I was a kid at the time and curse words intrigued me, I was always cursing someone out, so when a ni**a would be cursing everyone out that would be the funniest s**t in the world to me. So when Tim Dog did that on “F**k Compton” I thought the dude had lost his mind but I loved it. And it was more than just being about the fact that Tim Dog was from my block, it was about the fact that he had to have some f**kin’ balls to do what he did on that record. He went at the whole of Compton! I mean, I couldn’t be mad at DJ Quik, MC Eiht or any of those dudes for going back at him or dissing the Bronx. I mean, I liked DJ Quik and MC Eiht. Their music wasn’t getting played on New York radio at the time but their videos would be on Video Music Box and I was like, ‘Yo, these dudes have really got a story to tell.’ But Tim Dog was just like, ‘F**k your story!’ He really didn’t care (laughs).
After that I had to get “Penicillin On Wax” when it came out. I mean, everybody in my mother’s neighbourhood was listening to “Penicillin On Wax” because Tim Dog was from the block and that album was crazy! Nobody could say that Tim Dog was wack. But what I took from Tim Dog back then was the realisation that you can do exactly what you want to do with your life and not give a f**k about what anyone else has to say about it.”
Showbiz & A.G. – “Soul Clap” (Mercury Records / 1992)
$amhill: “Well, I can honestly say that Showbiz & A.G. really made me want to be $amhill even more and pursue this music. I used to hear “Soul Clap” on the radio and I remember the EP they had that it was on because I bought it. I s**t you not, I used to buy everything on bootleg back then (laughs). The bootleg man used to be up the block next to McRogers, which was my neighbourhood’s bootleg McDonalds (laughs). So the tape man would be there and sell everything for two dollars. I used to have thousands of those tapes. But I got Showbiz & A.G.’s first s**t with “Soul Clap” on there and that record was crazy to me. The bassline on there was just so breathtaking. I’d be walking to school listening to those dudes in my headphones and I loved what they were doing.
To me, A.G. is the epitome of the evolving emcee. From how he rhymed on Lord Finesse’s first album “Funky Technician”, to how he rhymed on his own early s**t, to how he rhymes now, you can hear that was somebody who wanted to get better every time he came out. A.G. didn’t take what he did as a joke. You could tell he wanted people to know rhyming was what he loved to do and that came across in the music. A.G. is definitely the epitome of an emcee to me.
As for Showbiz, I remember the first time I saw their video for “Fat Pockets” on Video Music Box and then went outside afterwards and saw him on the f**kin’ corner, that s**t changed my life forever. It made me realise that even with all the music stuff, Showbiz and A.G. were just regular dudes from my community. Seeing them around like that really made me follow everything they did and it let me know that I could do it to just by being me. But around that time, I was about fourteen or fifteen years old, I’d be at house parties and when “Soul Clap” would come on the whole place would go crazy because that song was so funky.
I have such a profound respect for both of them. A.G.’s brother Wally World is one of my producers who I’ve done a whole bunch of stuff with. Two years ago I had about a two or three hour conversation with Showbiz in his studio. This dude I used to be cool with took me down there to meet him because I was always saying that Showbiz & A.G. were the reason why I was doing this. So I was introduced to Showbiz and we ended up having a three hour conversation about God and spirituality. He asked to hear my music and he respected what I was doing. I was telling him how I used to see him around the neighbourhood when I was a little boy and how he would have all this jewellery on and be looking so fly, and he was just sat there staring at me like, ‘Wow! Just off of me being me, this young ni**a is doing what he’s doing now.’ But I really respected Showbiz for taking the time to hear me out and to speak to me about the things that we did.
Same thing with A.G., I remember seeing him at a radio station a couple of years ago and he was saying how if something isn’t about the truth then he doesn’t want to speak about it because he’s so connected to wanting to spread the knowledge of God and that s**t literally sent chills down my spine.
But to me, Showbiz & A.G. have never done anything wack. They’ve consistently evolved and that’s what I’ve always loved about them. It would be a dream come true for me to do a song with Show & A.G. just off the strength of the impact those two men had on my life before they ever even knew anything about me.”
Fat Joe – “Flow Joe” (Relativity Records / 1993)
$amhill: “It’s funny that you say that s**t because “Flow Joe” is one of my personal favourites as well. I remember seeing when Fat Joe was filming that video. But it really impacted me because I remember when Red Alert used to play a short version of the song as a promo on his radio show with the ‘Everybody know Fat Joe’s in town…’ verse. I used to sit there and wait for that promo to come on when I’d be listening to the radio. That Diamond D beat was so hardcore and the way it dropped with the kick and the snare was just incredible to me. Back then you could buy the cassette maxi-singles with the instrumental on it and I picked that up and used to play that s**t all the time.
That s**t was so dope to me. I mean, what Fat Joe was saying on there in his lyrics was good and it was cool for what it was, but the s**t that was just so crazy about that track was that beat. The music was just so cinematic and I don’t know how many people got that same feeling from it that I did. It made me want to get into Fat Joe even more and see where he was coming from with his music. I mean, the founding members of D.I.T.C. being from the Bronx just made such an impression on me because I would just see these dudes walking around. It just made me believe that if I wanted to do this music thing then I could do it.
But going back to that track, if anyone ever asked me what my favourite Fat Joe tracks were I would have to say “Flow Joe” and “Respect Mine” off the second album. I always preferred the version of “Flow Joe” they did the video for rather than the one that was on the first album. But that album “Represent” was crazy. I remember I always wanted to rap over the beat that was used on the interlude “My Man Ski”. When I was in high-school there was a talent show and I was going to be in it and the beat on that interlude was so dope so I looped it up on the tape-deck and I was going to do a freestyle to it. But then I got kicked out of the show because I was being stupid (laughs).”
Money Boss Players – “Crap Game” (Warning Records / 1996)
$amhill: “Hmmmm. It’s like this man, the best thing about Money Boss Players is Lord Tariq and I’ma leave it at that. You can print that. The best thing about Money Boss is Lord Tariq and that’s all I have to say on it. It is what it is. I just don’t really f**k with that. I got respect for Lord Tariq and I’ve learnt that Lord Tariq has respect for me and my music and I’ll leave it at that.”
Big Pun – “I’m Not A Player” (Loud Records / 1997)
$amhill: “The original mix of that song is crazy. Big Pun was an intriguing dude to me. I mean, I never knew him personally, I just knew of him from the community. You remember the remix video where he’s riding around on that scooter? Pun would actually ride around the Bronx on that f**kin’ scooter. I would see Pun’s big ass on that scooter riding around Home Street, Boston Road, Forest Projects, I would see him do that. But the original version of that song was so crazy to me because I love soul music and the way that O’Jays sample was flipped was so dope. Then on top of that I had to respect the lyrical ability of Big Pun as well. I remember thinking how he reminded me of Kool G. Rap when I first heard him, not to where he was biting his style, but like Big L and Lord Finesse, Pun just enhanced that style and was the next generation. I just thought he was f**kin’ nice.
When Pun came out Hip-Hop was getting into some other s**t but he was still able to remain himself and keep it street. I mean, that “Capital Punishment” album was off-the-wall! You could tell there were certain tracks on there where Pun was trying to reach for that commercial appeal, but overall he did his thing on there. It always seemed to me that Pun knew what he wanted to do with his music and he did exactly that. I mean, Pun passed away in 2000, it’s now thirteen years after his death and we still haven’t had another new emcee come through from anywhere and make that type of impact to say I’m one of those next ni**as who’s going to be respected as legendary status.”
Follow $amhill on Twitter @MoeMiller96 and lookout for the full album “The $amhill Story” coming later this year.
Posted in East Coast Hip-Hop, Interviews
Tagged 80s Hip-Hop, 90s Hip-Hop, BDP, Big Pun, Boogie Down Productions, East Coast Hip-Hop, Fat Joe, Just-Ice, Money Boss Players, Old-School Hip-Hop, Showbiz & A.G., The $amhill Story, The Almighty $amhill, The Bronx, The Preface, Tim Dog, Ultramagnetic MC's