Tag Archives: Uncle Howie Records

52 Best Albums & EPs Of 2013 (Part Three) – Ill Bill / J-Zone / Dirt Platoon etc.

Ill Bill – “The Grimy Awards” (Uncle Howie) – The Brooklyn emcee kept one foot in the gritty past of NYC and the other striding towards an apocalyptic future as he shed light on both his influences and pivotal life moments throughout this extremely personal project. With production from the likes of Large Professor, DJ Muggs and DJ Premier, Bill dropped arguably his most impressive work to date (and an honorable mention has to go to Q-Unique for one of the year’s best verses on “L’Amour East”).

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Omniscence – “Sharp Objects EP” (Omniscence.BandCamp.Com) – Having made his name in the 90s with underground classics such as “Amazin'” and “Touch Y’all”, the North Carolina punchline king returned like he hadn’t missed a beat, displaying his agile lyricism on this EP built on the strong, jazzy head-nodding sonics of Australian producer Debonair P.

omniscence cover

Dam-Funk & Snoop Dogg – “7 Days Of Funk” (Stones Throw) – Getting back to his G-Funk roots, Snoopzilla got in touch with his inner Bootsy Collins by uniting with talented producer Dam-Funk for this synth-heavy blast of retro goodness that sounded like Tha Dogg Pound had gatecrashed a 1983 Bar-Kays jam session. Ooooweeee!!!

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J-Zone – “Peter Pan Syndrome” (Old Maid Entertainment) – Providing theme music for thirty-something Hip-Hop heads everywhere faced with the cold realities of growing-up, Zone Loc’s latest opus found the Queens, NY producer-on-the-mic navigating the pressures of full-time employment, property ownership and relationships with his usual blend of sarcastic humour and musical inventiveness.

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DJ Skizz – “B.Q.E. (The Brooklyn-Queens Experience)” (Gawd Of Math Music) – Amidst ongoing debates around the topic of New York rap losing its identity, producer DJ Skizz enlisted the likes of Masta Ace, Al’ Tariq and Rasheed Chappell for a hardcore shot to the dome that needed to be listened to whilst wearing a hoodie and Timberlands to be fully appreciated.

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Strange Neighbour – “The Heisenberg EP” (Revorg Records) – Taking his inspiration from the anti-hero of cult TV show “Breaking Bad”, UK producer Strange Neighbour got busy in the lab and cooked-up this drum-heavy batch of bangers featuring the varied lyrical styles of Phoenix Da Icefire, Oliver Sudden, Big Toast and more.

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Durag Dynasty – “360 Waves” (Nature Sounds) – The Alchemist continued to spend the year churning out ridiculously dope beats with this full-length crew effort from Planet Asia, Tristate and Killer Ben. With the West Coast trio each spitting sharp lyrical darts, Alchemist’s stripped-down beats provided the right amount of thump to ensure said darts exploded on impact as intended.

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Chairman Maf – “1976” (ChairmanMaf.BandCamp.Com) – UK producer Maf’s debut full-length instrumental project was a masterclass in creating mood music. Ranging from ethereal boom-bap to intergalactic soul, “1976” took the listener on an unpredictable sonic journey which had a worthwhile destination around every corner.

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Skyzoo & Antman Wonder – “An Ode To Reasonable Doubt” (Loyalty Digital Corp) – The Brooklyn lyricist paid homage to Jigga’s classic debut respectfully and creatively on this Antman Wonder-produced EP. Retreading the musical steps of golden-era Hov definitely meant attempting to fill some big shoes, but this brilliant eight-track release found Skyzoo adding just as much to “Reasonable Doubt” as he was taking. No regrets here.

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Dirt Platoon – “War Face” (Shinigamie Records) – Straight off the streets of Baltimore, duo Raf Almighty and Snook Da Crook cracked the concrete beats provided here by French producer Kyo Itachi like a pair of lyrical jackhammers. Rough, rugged and raw, “War Face”  left your eardrums feeling like they’d just been pummelled by the neighbourhood bully.

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Tommy Tyler – “The Golden Section” (SonsPhonetic.BandCamp.Com) – The Irish emcee delivered a moody, hypnotic five-track EP that drew the listener into a sombre world further enhanced by the bass-heavy production of Mook. Music to listen to with the lights off.

tommy tyler cover

Ryan Proctor

Check Part OnePart Two and Part Four.

New Joint – Ill Bill

Ill Bill – “World Premier” (Fat Beats / 2013)

The NY emcee drops a dedication to the man behind the boards on this DJ Premier-produced track from his album “The Grimy Awards”.

New Joint – Ill Bill

Ill Bill – “Exploding Octopus” ( Uncle Howie / Fat Beats / 2013)

Dramatic visuals for this self-produced concept-driven track from the Non-Phixion / La Coka Nostra member’s forthcoming album “The Grimy Awards”.

New Joint – Ill Bill / El-P

Ill Bill ft. El-P – “Severed Heads Of State” (Uncle Howie / 2012)

Taken from the La Coka Nostra emcee’s forthcoming album “The Grimy Awards” which features OC, Cormega, Mayhem Lauren and more.

New Joint – La Coka Nostra

La Coka Nostra – “Creed Of The Greedier” (Fat Beats / 2012)

Sicknature-produced banger from LCN’s new album “Masters Of The Dark Arts”.

New Joint – La Coka Nostra

La Coka Nostra – “Malverde Market” (Uncle Howie Records / 20110

Produced by Ill Bill and taken from the crew’s forthcoming album “Masters Of The Dark Arts”.

Live Review – Heavy Metal Kings (Ill Bill / Vinnie Paz)

Venue: The Underworld, London  Date: 11 May 2011

Close to the end of their month long European tour, Ill Bill and Vinnie Paz’s stop in London was without doubt  one of this year’s most anticipated gigs so far. Having inherited the same hybrid fanbase of Hip-Hop heads, rock dudes and skater-types that Cypress Hill and House Of Pain once attracted, it was obvious from the outset that this particular show was going to be just a little different to your typical rap event.

Packed with drunk, tatted-up white dudes clad in La Coka Nostra / Jedi Mind Tricks t-shirts chanting “Bill! Bill! Bill!” and “Vinnniie!” long before the pair had even hit the stage, Camden’s dark and humid subterranean Underworld venue was perhaps the perfect spot for the Heavy Metal Kings’ brand of grimy, aggressive rap.

After strong, well-received sets from UK acts Grit Grammar and Rhyme Asylum, Non-Phixion’s DJ Eclipse took to the mic to announce the arrival of the headlining act. Hitting the stage to the sound of the HMK banger “Keeper Of The Seven Keys”, Bill and Vinnie drew thunderous roars from the crowd setting an energy level that remained high for the duration of the duo’s hour-plus set.

No gimmicks and no theatrics, the Brooklyn native and Philly emcee powered through their hardcore repertoire, drawing on material not just from the Heavy Metal Kings release, but also the catalogues of Non-Phixion, Jedi Mind Tricks, Army Of The Pharoahs, La Coka Nostra plus their own solo work.

With the gravelly-voiced Paz appearing more subdued than he was at last year’s London JMT show, it was left mainly to Bill to fill the gaps between tracks, displaying a dry sense of humour that only seemed to run out when, after playing peacekeeper between two fighting audience members, the pair’s scuffle led to the monitors being pushed out of place on the front of the stage – “You’re f**kin’ boring me now!” the agitated Non-Phixion member yelled at the two knuckleheads. “I actually don’t care now if you beat the sh*t out of each other or not, just leave the f**kin’ monitors alone!”

Cuts such as Non-Phixion’s conspiracy-driven “Black Helicopters”, Vinnie’s solo joint “Monster’s Ball” and LCN’s “F**k Tony Montana” were all delivered with fiery determination by the duo, with the show being nothing short of an hour-long adrenaline rush. Inbetween dropping sonic bombs, Bill and Paz gave props to their favourite rock acts such as Slayer, dropped a dedication to Gang Starr’s Guru and poked fun at the British accent, with Ill Bill joking that he thought the crowd was going to be a “bunch of Napoleon Dynamite-looking muthaf**kers”, to which Vinnie responded “Nah, the goons came out tonight” whilst surveying the rowdy scene.

Considering the pair’s lyrical content can often have a socio-political slant complete with anti-government rhetoric, it would have been interesting to hear Bill and Vinnie talk a little more about the inspiration behind certain tracks and their own take on current world issues, but perhaps that’s something they’d both prefer to keep for interviews rather than discuss onstage.

To their critics, the music of Ill Bill and Vinnie Paz is excessively violent and harsh purely for the sake of shock value. But let’s not forget that the likes of NWA, The Geto Boys and Onyx dropped some classic Hip-Hop moments whilst also fighting off criticism of being over-the-top in their music.

To their fans, however, the line between what should be considered food for thought (Ill Bill’s “The Anatomy Of A School Shooting”) and what should be considered pure hardcore entertainment (AOTP’s “Bloody Tears”) appears fairly clear.

Whether or not this Heavy Metal Kings project is a one-off remains to be seen, but judging by the quality of the performance witnessed on this particular night, Vinnie Paz and Ill Bill definitely have what it takes to follow in the footsteps of other perfectly matched duos such as Run DMC and EPMD and go down in the Hip-Hop hall of fame together.

Definitely a show to remember for all the right reasons.

Ryan Proctor