Tag Archives: Thrice Great Records

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2014 (Part Two) – Cormega / Habitat & DJ Severe / Diamond D etc.

Check Part One here.

Cormega – “Mega Philosophy” (The Slimstyle Recording Corporation) – A true veteran of the pitfalls of both the inner-city streets and the music industry, Queensbridge icon ‘Mega joined forces with the legendary Large Professor for this pure and honest dose of East Coast Hip-Hop. Backed by both Extra P’s impeccable beats and appearances from the likes of Raekwon, Nature and Black Rob, the NY lyricist ensured this album lived up to its title as he dropped jewels and life lessons throughout.

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Pawz One – “Face The Facts” (Below System Records) – Grounded in the streets of LA but looking much further than the end of his block for inspiration, West Coast emcee Pawz One packed his debut album with insightful, heartfelt commentary on everything from self-empowerment and police brutality to back-in-the day memories and his love for Hip-Hop. Standing out from the crowd with a strong sense of individuality and a good ear for quality production, the Cali microphone fiend ensured he separated the fact from the fiction on his first official full-length project.

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Supa Dave West – “Beat Boxing” (Redefinition Records) – Having supplied the likes of De La Soul, Common and Ghostface with some sonic flavour over the years, Queens, NY-raised Dave West demonstrated his versatility behind-the-boards with this speaker-busting instrumental effort, sculpting tracks that ranged in style from futuristic boom-bap and synth-heavy vibes to feel-good funk and old-school block-party beats.

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Jack Jetson – “Adventures Of Johnny Strange” (RLD Records) – Promising to “hijack your plane of existence”, UK emcee Jack Jetson dropped one of the most lyrically entertaining releases of the year with “Adventures Of…”, a non-stop barrage of verbal mischief and mayhem. Think Dennis The Menace meets Canibus and you’re halfway there. With colourful, psychedelic wordplay exploding over brilliant beats from the multi-talented Leaf Dog, Jetson proved himself to be a genuinely gifted emcee with a lively imagination.

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MindsOne & Kev Brown – “Pillars” (Ill Adrenaline Records) – This expertly-executed EP delivered the goods on each of its eight tracks, resulting in a relatively short but intense listening experience. Combining Maryland producer-on-the-mic Kev Brown’s trademark basslines, basement-style beats and direct lyricism with the sharp rhymes of MindsOne, the elegantly rugged “Pillars” quickly became yet another worthy addition to the steadily expanding Ill Adrenaline catalogue.

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Rocdwell – “Daily Chronicles” (Rocdwell.BandCamp.Com) – With a passionate, captivating rhyme style falling somewhere between Freeway and Sugar Ray of 90s favourites Double XX Posse, Detroit artist Rocdwell’s album of “adult contemporary Hip-Hop” found the lyricist dropping down-t0-earth rhymes over hard-hitting, soul-tinged production, with “Daily Chronicles” designed to act as a motivational soundtrack to assist us all as we battled with the trials, tribulations and everyday struggles of life.

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People Under The Stairs – “12 Step Program” (Piecelock 70 Records) – Combining their shared passion for fun-fuelled b-boy antics, funky breaks and beer, West Coast duo Thes One and Double K filled their eleventh (!!!) album with their usual upbeat, feel-good flavour, proving yet again why PUTS have remained one of Hip-Hop’s most consistent and reliable acts since debuting back in the late-90s.

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Edo.G – “After All These Years” (5th & Union) – Proving the old saying that there’s strength in numbers, Boston’s Edo.G successfully enlisted the help of fans in 2014 for this Kickstarter-funded album. Featuring production from Pete Rock and 9th Wonder, plus appearances by King Magnetic, Camp Lo and Chuck D, “After All These Years” achieved a healthy balance between golden-era throwback vibes and present-day relevance, with Edo embracing his elder statesman status as he attempted to school the masses.

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Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild – “Silk Pyramids” (Thrice Great Records) – Combining gritty Rotten Apple attitude, a passion for fly apparel, and an unwavering pride in his home borough of Queens, Outdoorsmen member Meyhem Lauren’s heavily-anticipated collaboration with D.I.T.C.’s Buckwild lived up to expecations, delivering a hefty, slang-laden slice of traditional New York straight talk.

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Habitat & DJ Severe – “Empire Building” (Boom Bap Professionals) – Having already left a dent on the UK Hip-Hop scene as part of Lincolnshire’s Heavy Links crew, emcee Habitat struck out on a solo mission to claim new musical territory, armed with sharp lyrical darts, the battle-hardened boom-bap of producer DJ Severe, and the support of lyrical allies such as Oliver Sudden, Chrome and Luca Brazi. No tricks in 2014, it was time to build.

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Army Of The Pharoahs – “Heavy Lies The Crown” (Enemy Soil Records) – The second of two albums released by the East Coast collective in 2014, “Heavy Lies The Crown” found the AOTP emcees at their creative best, with the likes of Vinnie Paz, Celph Titled and Esoteric dropping vivid, larger-than-life imagery and bone-crushing punchlines over dramatic production from C-Lance, Stu Bangas, DJ 7L and more. Rough, rugged and raw.

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Apollo Brown & Ras Kass – “Blasphemy” (Mello Music Group) – Taking on a variety of subjects, including religion, racism, financial recession and the rules of the rap game, West Coast verbal heavyweight Ras Kass and Detroit producer Apollo Brown crafted an album perfectly suited to today’s confusing times. Further proving the Cali lyricist’s well-deserved reputation as one of Hip-Hop’s most formidable wordsmiths, and adding yet another chamber to Brown’s already impressive discography, “Blasphemy” provided a robust mix of thought-provoking rhymes, microphone bravado and pounding, sample-heavy beats.

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Es-K – “Serenity” (Cold Busted) – A concept album dedicated to the memory of a close friend, the aptly-titled “Serenity” found Holland-born producer Es-K inviting the likes of D.I.T.C.’s Andre The Giant, C-Rayz Walz and Boston’s M-Dot to wax lyrical about the pain of loss, the beauty of cherished memories and the fragility of life, with poignant results. Providing a warm, hypnotic soundbed for the sincere and heartfelt verses of the album’s featured artists, Es-K excelled himself musically, delivering soulfully soothing beats which gave the project a moving, ethereal feel.

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Diamond D – “The Diam Piece” (Dymond Mine Records) – Succeeding in blending old-school production values with a contemporary feel, the Diggin In The Crates’ producer-on-the-mic pulled together a generation-spanning group of emcees to bless “The Diam Piece”. The likes of Skyzoo, Rapsody, Freddie Foxxx and Grand Daddy I.U. all stepped-up to the mic-stand with solid performances whilst Diamond worked his dusty-fingered magic on the beats.

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Shabaam Sahdeeq – “Keepers Of The Lost Art” (Below System Records) – Approaching his first proper album in almost ten years with both the wisdom of experience and an ever-youthful passion for his craft, NYC’s Sahdeeq sounded like he hadn’t missed a beat since his debut during the mid-90s independent boom, lacing quality production from the likes of the UK’s Lewis Parker, Harry Fraud and DJ Skizz with his thoughts on life and Hip-Hop.

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Pharoahe Monch – “PTSD” (W.A.R. Media) – In less-skilled hands, a part-autobiographical, part-conceptual album covering topics such as substance abuse, mental health and emotional stress could very easily have been a creative disaster. Yet, with “PTSD”, Organized Konfusion’s Monch succeeded in effectively dealing with such potentially sensitive subject matter whilst still taking the opportunity to indulge in some good ol’-fashioned verbal showmanship, recording an album which balanced soul-stirring moments with competition-crushing verses of sheer lyrical excellence.

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Tunnel Movement – “Overlooked” – Following in the musical footsteps of other Windy City talents such as All Natural and Common, Chicago duo KwoteOne and N.O.A.H. crafted an impressive sophomore album full of life-affirming rhymes and solid, soul-laced beats, which, in this instance, hopefully didn’t live up to its title.

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Raf Almighty – “G.T.F.O.M.Y.” (Effiscienz Records) – A product of his 90s-era Baltimore environment, Dirt Platoon member Raf Almighty brought a fiery combination of life experience and lyrical grit to the table on this uncompromising solo project, finding his ideal musical backdrop in the concrete-cracking production of France’s DJ Brans.

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Sunblaze – “Dirty Rican LP” (SunblazeHipHop.BandCamp.Com) – Representing BK to the fullest, Rotten Apple resident Sunblaze evoked images of shadowy project hallways, street corner ciphers and scuffed Timberland boots with this rugged project firmly rooted in the tradition of East Coast boom-bap. With Timbo King, Pumpkinhead and Tragedy Khadafi providing lyrical assistance, Sunblaze utilised his street-related, razor-sharp rhymes to add on to the legacy of the City Of Gods. Boriquas on da set!

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Apathy – “Connecticut Casual” (Dirty Version Records) – Drawing on his New England stomping grounds for inspiration, Demigodz member Apathy took listeners on a twisting journey through the underbelly of Connecticut for his fourth solo album, combining personal memories, local folklore and political intrigue with masterful penmanship on this largely self-produced and thoroughly captivating release.

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Part Three coming soon.

Album Review – Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild

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Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild

“Silk Pyramids”

(Thrice Great Records)

The place an emcee calls home has always been an important factor in Hip-Hop. For example, over the years, if a new artist was able to claim the likes of the Bronx or Brooklyn as their stomping grounds, it immediately lent their upcoming project a sense of credibility due purely to the history of said NY boroughs. On the flip-side, freestyle favourite Mad Skillz titled his debut 1996 album “From Where???” thanks to the low expectations Hip-Hop heads had at the time of any artist coming out of his Richmond, Virginia locale.

But whilst hometown pride has been commonplace in the rap game since day one,  there are those emcees who rhyme well who just happen to come from a certain place, with their postal address not necessarily having a direct link to their artistry, and then there are those lyricists who literally embody the place they came up in, with their environment and their music being virtually inseparable. Think MC Eiht and Compton. Scarface and Houston’s Fifth Ward. Raekwon or Ghostface and the slums of Shaolin. And, of course, Biggie and Brooklyn.

At its best, the music of the above mentioned artists (and others) has gone beyond simply being about quality beats and rhymes, managing instead to capture the sights, sounds and stories of their respective surroundings, which in turn has informed their work with an organic, tangible quality that puts the listener directly into their world with no compromise or apology.

On his latest full-length project, the Buckwild-produced “Silk Pyramids”, NYC’s Meyhem Lauren does exactly that. Pulling us deep into the galaxy of Queens via his colourful wordplay, the Outdoorsmen member delivers a solid slice of Rotten Apple Hip-Hop that finds Laurenovich looking no further than outside of his front door for inspiration.

Stating on the opening Action Bronson-assisted “100 M.P.H.” that he’s “so Queens that you can feel me”, Lauren goes on to paint vivid images of his beloved borough on “Q.U. Cartilage”, weaving landmarks, names and personal memories together to create fast-moving cinematic rhymes that time-travel from Meyhem’s youth to the present day, with the rapper sounding grateful that he’s reached a point in life that some of his friends perhaps haven’t been lucky enough to see (“Blastin’ Billie Holiday out the Benz coup, Came a long way from the days when we were strange fruit…”).

The organ-driven “Salmon Croquettes” finds Lauren being joined by AG Da Coroner, with the Brooklyn lyricist delivering a gruff verse of epic OG proportions, sounding like the rhyming version of Ving Rhames’ character in John Singleton’s “Baby Boy” as he claims to be “the real meaning of a rap artist” whilst sending a warning to rap’s younger generation who “steal from the older gods”.

“Honey Champagne Sorbet” is built around a warm sonic soul glow, as Buckwild delivers the perfect loop to match Lauren’s verses of fly braggadocio,  with the Lo-Life representative sounding like he’s just won Mack Of The Year and is up on the podium delivering his acceptance speech (“My life was written ‘cos I wrote it, Then I got promoted, Pockets exploded, Now this whip I drive is candy-coated…”).

Elsewhere, the mellow “Aztec Blue” is a walk down memory lane, with Meyhem reminiscing alongside Hologram about simpler times involving spraying tags on buildings, hanging-out with the crew and rocking fresh kicks, whilst “Where The $ At” is an obnoxious, drum-heavy display of lyrical arrogance featuring a typically larger-than-life appearance from Thirstin Howl who can be heard flaunting a wallet “big enough to be a saddle” amongst other humourous claims.

The closing “Been Official”, arguably the album’s strongest track, features Lauren boasting of his “outfit architecture” over sublime production whilst pondering whether his “street s**t, poetically spoken” will lead him to be crowned the next king of New York.

Musically, Buckwild upholds his half of the duo’s creative deal throughout “Silk Pyramids”. Whilst it would have been easy for the veteran producer to have been heavy-handed with a signature 90s Diggin’ In The Crates sound, Buck has instead blessed Lauren with a selection of beats that compliment his style and help give the album its own sense of identity.

The only weak link here is the underwhelming “I Want It All” which, unfortunately, suffers due to Buckwild’s production on this particular cut lacking the character heard throughout the rest of his work on the album.

Overall, “Silk Pyramids” is a win for the Queens native. At a time when the uneducated are still claiming that New York rap has lost its distinctiveness, Meyhem Lauren has been carrying on tradition, keeping his Wallabees clean, his Polo collection up-to-par and his rhyme skills sharp, crafting quality music to put listeners in an NY state of mind, wherever it is they might reside around the globe.

Ryan Proctor

Follow Meyhem Lauren on Twitter – @MeyhemLauren

Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild – “Been Official” (Thrice Great Records / 2014)

 

New Joint – Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild / P.F. Cuttin

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Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild ft. P.F. Cuttin – “Q.U. Cartilage” (Thrice Great Records / 2014)

The New York lyricist drops a vivid dedication to his Queens stomping grounds off the heavily-anticipated “Silk Pyramids” album.

New Joint – Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild

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Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild – “Silk Shirts And Yellow Gold” (@MeyhemLauren / 2014)

The Queens, NY wordsmith spits that rugged fly ish on this official leak from his forthcoming Thrice Great Records project “Silk Pyramids” produced entirely by Diggin’ In The Crates legend Buckwild.