Phonte – “No News Is Good News” (Phonte.BandCamp.Com) – Whilst the music industry continued trying to reinforce the misconception that rap is only a sport for the young, North Carolina’s ever-impressive Phonte delivered a solid slice of grown-man Hip-Hop that was defiant, honest, realistic and entertaining. Accompanied by producers such as Marco Polo, Tall Black Guy and Nottz, this was the sound of an artist facing his mortality through music that was so good it will guarantee his immortality.
Sleep Sinatra – “[D]Arkangel” (GourmetDeluxxx.BandCamp.Com) – Sometimes you can just hear the sense of satisfaction an emcee derives from twisting words into verses full of verbal virtuosity. Nebraska’s Sleep Sinatra is one such emcee. This album was a lesson in lyricism that felt like Sinatra was channelling some other-worldly energy, enabling him to craft the non-stop barrage of intricate wordplay found here. As the man himself says, you should study the science more.
AWAR – “The Spoils Of War” (AWAR.BandCamp.Com) – Calling on production heavy-hitters such as The Alchemist, Lord Finesse and Showbiz, Rotten Apple rhymer AWAR delivered an album that was grounded in golden-era attitude yet managed to avoid sounding like an artist simply trying to relive a time that has passed. “The Spoils Of War” showcased the skills of an emcee clearly passionate about his craft.
Benaddict – “A New Leaf” (VinDig.BandCamp.Com) – Following up 2017’s impressive “The Garden Of England”, UK artist Benaddict continued to deliver his take on modern-day living in his own inimitable style with “A New Leaf”, a quality collection of mellow, jazz-influenced beats and subtle, insightful wordplay. Sharing production duties with the talented Ded Tebiase, Benaddict carefully crafted his own sonic world here and proudly invited us all in. Sublime mood music.
The P Brothers – “Mentaltainment” (PBrothers.BandCamp) – Nottingham, England’s DJ Ivory and Paul S have spent years building a strong reputation as suppliers of hardcore beat science. This latest release from the two Notts bombers didn’t disappoint on that front. With Daniel Son, Your Old Droog, Doo Wop and Milano matching the P Brothers’ uncompromising rawness with equally impressive performances, this EP was short yet effective.
O.C. – “A New Dawn: 2nd Phase” (OmarCredle.BandCamp.Com) – One of the greatest emcees of all-time, Diggin’ In The Crates legend O.C. added to his impressive album catalogue with this sturdy collection of mature, thoughtful Hip-Hop. Backed by the production of Showbiz, Motif Alumni, Dark Keys and Gwop Sullivan, the Rotten Apple rhymer demonstrated that it is possible for veteran artists to give original fans some of what first grabbed their attention in the past whilst still showing growth that reflects the present. Word…life!
AnyWay Tha God & Micall Parknsun – “Over P’s” (AnyWayThaGod.BandCamp.Com) – UK emcee AnyWay Tha God sought to inspire and motivate on this Micall Parknsun-produced EP, attempting to bring the best out of both himself and his listeners in the process. Mixing intelligent, meditative rhymes with soul-stirring beats, AnyWay continued his journey along the path of mastery. Spiritually minded music.
Conway The Machine – “Everybody Is F.O.O.D.” (WhoIsConway.Com) – The title of this project from Griselda’s Conway told you everything you needed to know about the Buffalo resident’s attitude as an emcee. If you’re not part of the family then you’re getting rolled over. Largely produced by regular collaborator Daringer (with input from Pete Rock, Green Lantern and Statik Selektah), “Everybody Is…” tightened the Griselda camp’s grip on the underground just that little bit more, with Conway yet again combining street knowledge with natural rhyme skills.
Mr Slipz – “It Don’t Stop” (Yogocop.BandCamp.Com) – A master at crafting atmospheric, off-kilter soundscapes, Brighton-based producer Mr Slipz delivered a seamless album which made the listener feel like they’d stumbled into an open-mic session in a hazy, smoke-filled basement. With emcees such as Vitamin G, Verbz and Benaddict lending their lyrical talents to the project, “It Don’t Stop” was music to zone out to.
LEX – “Alex” (LEXNYRE.BandCamp.Com) – The Queens, NY emcee attempted to find meaning in the struggle of the daily grind on this self-produced project. Blending life observations and brotherly advice with personal experience, LEX’s down-to-earth persona endeared him to listeners, making his rhymes all the more relatable.
Jaz Kahina – “School Run” (JazKahina1.BandCamp.Com) – The London lyricist showcased her versatility on this six-track EP, with the talented emcee stamping her irrepressible personality over a diverse selection of production from DJ LoK, Nutty P, Micall Parknsun and more.
Roc Marciano – “Behold A Dark Horse” (Marci Enterprises) – Sayings such as ‘less is more’ and ‘quality over quantity’ just don’t apply to Strong Island’s Roc Marci. The second of three full-length Marcberg projects to drop in 2018, “Behold…” offered more macked-out microphone techniques delivered over a smooth selection of minimalist loops, with input from Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip and Black Thought.
DJ Muggs – “Soul Assassins: Dia Del Asesinato” (SoulAssassins.Com) – Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs may have sold millions of records, toured the world and won industry awards, but at the end of the day, the NY-raised, LA-based producer is still a fan of that grimy, hardcore Hip-Hop first and foremost. If you needed proof, this project found the likes of Kool G Rap, Meyhem Lauren and Raekwon spitting darts over Muggs’ unapologetically dark and moody beats.
J-Live – “Lose No Time” (RealJLive.BandCamp.Com) – Since his initial mid-90s releases, NYC’s J-Live has remained one of Hip-Hop’s most consistent emcees. This self-produced EP was another worthy addition to the talented lyricist’s catalogue, with Live dropping clever, witty and entertaining verses over quality beats.
After Ourz – “After Ourz” (StarvinB.BandCamp.Com) – Starvin B, Foul Monday and Flushing Tek repped for the borough of Queens in no uncertain terms throughout this EP, accompanied by production from Stu Bangas, Fel Sweetenberg, Fifth Element and more.
Big Cakes – “No Expenses” (BigCakes.BandCamp.Com) – Featuring Cakes’ usual engaging mix of life observations, social commentary and political insight, this eighth album from the talented London-based emcee was heavy with substance and heartfelt sentiments.
Fraction & Finsta – “Thoughtwork” (Fraction.BandCamp.Com) – Quality collaborative effort from Finsta (of New York 90s favourites Finsta Bundy) and Canadian vet Fraction, this album was all about dope rhymes and dope beats. The pair were clearly determined to deliver some undiluted true-school flavour on this project and they succeeded in no uncertain terms.
Ty – “A Work Of Heart” (TyMusics.BandCamp.Com) – Known for his observational writing style, sharp wit and progressive musical approach, London’s Ty upped the creative ante once again on his fifth album. Inspiring, forward-thinking and life-affirming, “A Work Of Heart” reminded us all that Ty is an artist in the truest sense of the term; always pushing, always elevating, always growing.
Precyce Politix & D.R.U.G.S. Beats – “Drug-Politix” (PrecycePolitix.BandCamp.Com) – NY-raised, North Carolina-based emcee Precyce Politix delivered well-crafted, substance-filled verses over quality production from D.R.U.G.S. Beats on this impressive long-player featuring OC From NC, Illpo and Major Green.
Dell-P – “Wordsmith” (WHOMAG Distribution) – This aptly-titled album offered further evidence that Philadelphia’s Dell-P is one of the most gifted emcees to have entered the rap game in recent years. Forthright, intelligent and always remaining true to his own artistic vision, the 215 representative put his lifetime inbetween the paper’s lines throughout this release, proving that the name Dell-P deserves to be mentioned alongside the long line of Illadelph greats.
Fifth and final part coming soon.