It’s safe to say that Ill Poetic’s week has turned out to be a pretty darn good one with the the leak (free download) of his Joe Budden meets Portishead “mash-up”, “MM3rd”. Timing is everything, a week ago the idea of crafting this album was all but dissolved after one of the project’s contributors backed out at the last minute. Rather than saying, “ahh, fu*k it I’ll just keep the beats for another project”, Ill chose to knock out “MM3rd” in less than 48 hours. The results are nearly amazing, if not genius. The release has already garnered an enormous amount of praise, and just yesterday “MM3rd” made it’s appearance on Rolling Stone.Com’s “Rock & Roll Daily”. (editor’s note: the amount of incoming “hits” from Rolling Stone.com do wonders for your “Stat Tracker”). Of course, the release also coincides with the release of Portishead’s first album in nearly 10 (!) years, “Third”. Timing is everything.
“MM3rd” is the perfect marriage between Portishead’s “mourning” glory, Budden’s self-reflective lyrics (sheeet, you think you gotta’ it bad, listening to Joe’s depressing lyrics is sure to put your “situation” in a brighter state) and ill poetic’s crystal-clear, precise and bass-heavy production. Your see and hear Budden in a totally different light atop the production on this album. I don’t know if it’s primarily the production (of not only Poetic, but Portishead’s production is extremely daring as well!) on this “re-working” or what, but after just a few listens your sold on Budden’s story-telling abilities and lyrical skills in general, enough to push to seek out Budden’s prior releases in the “Mood Muzik” series. “All Of Me” is an 8 minute recollection of some of the many road-blocks that have occurred in Budden’s history atop sharp, stutter-step drum kicks from ill poetic intertwined with bits and pieces of Portishead’s finale from their debut smash “Dummy”, “Glory Box”. The track has numerous twists and turns that all come come crashing together at various moments to coincide with Budden’s lyrical “highs and lows”, although the real treat arrives at the 7:47 mark as a pulsing drum track is inserted for the track’s “outro” only leaving you wondering why this track wasn’t utilized to it’s full potential (ill poetic has made a habit of doing that, peep a few of the track endings on “The World Is Ours”). After last week’s release of “Blueprint vs. Funkadelic” (also one of the year’s best thus far) and this outstanding, daring release from Ill Poetic, the state that both of these emcees/producers call home (Ohio) is most definitely a force to be reckoned with!
Ill and I have joked that I’m the Source (mag) to his Benzino (similar to what Trav of “Wake Your Daughter Up” and the Smile Rays have going for them), but you have to give credit where credit is due! Not only is Ill Poetic hands down my favorite artist in Hip Hop right now as I never seem to get tired of his music, but I also consider him to be one of the industry’s most talented assets as well (the Smile Rays aren’t anything to sneeze at either)! Plus, from some of the “exclusives” and test material that Ill Poetic has leaked out to me thus far, we’re all in for quite a treat for the months ahead! So for all of you bitchin’ and moanin’ about “Smile Rays Week” over at W.Y.D.U., I’m tellin’ you right now if you can’t appreciate the dope product that’s emerging from Columbus, Ohio then don’t even bother tuning in for the next week or so as I have an “Ohio Appreciation Week” that I’m working on that will (if all goes as planned) feature some of the ‘Nati’s finest artists on the come-up and those whom already solidified their place in Hip Hop. Lastly, thank-you Columbus, Ohio (Ill Poetic, Blueprint, Danger Zone, etc.) for helping me get through the last few weeks with three of 2008′s best releases (stay tuned for more on Danger Zone), which have made my days and nights that much more enjoyable. Plus, my Wife loves Blueprint and Ill Poetic so I’ve gotta’ love em’ right? (p.s. congrats go out to dedicated reader Big Fonz and his Wife whom were married…..today (?) actually)
If I’d told you a few weeks ago that the most recent Duck Down signees, Kidz in The Hall, would create one of the most depressing tracks in recent memory, would you have believed me? Well, believe it as the duo (and certified preppies) of Knawledge and Double-O prove that things aren’t always as they are portrayed in the video for “Drivin’ Down The Block”. Let’s face it, Kidz’ Rawkus debut “School Was My Hustle” kind of presented the duo as a care-free, all about a good time, life of the party group. Maybe it had something to do with their youth, however, the time between the release of “School…” and “The In Crowd” has obviously done wonders for the group. As this is a much more concentrated and honest record than what I’ve come to expect from Kidz In The Hall. The production on “Inner Me” is sick! Double-O (whom I believe produced ALL of “The In Crowd”) does an A+ job of provided Knawledge with a heart-felt, bass-heavy banger with a fading sample that flows from right to left in your headphones. The track builds even more momentum near it’s close, and being that the track is over 5 minutes in length, you never begin to grow weary and reach for the fast-forward button.
As far as the rest of “The In Crowd” is concerned? Well, that’s really not for me to say as I’ve been enraptured by the recent releases from Blueprint and Ill Poetic, that I really haven’t been able to really “sit down” and take this album in from start to finish. Hopefully, be the end of next week I’ll be more suited to speak my thoughts on this highly anticipated follow-up to “School Was My Hustle”. However, from what I’ve read thus far regarding “The In Crowd” it’s received alot of praise, and I’ve even seen it tagged on a few sites as “The Album Of The Year Thus Far”. Although, I squirmed in my chair a bit when a few of those same exact sites dubbed Kidz In The Hall as today’s version of GangStarr, Eric B & Rakim, and even Pete Rock and CL Smooth….now, that’s pushin’ it a bit, wouldn’t you agree? In the meantime, be sure to bump “Inner Me” in the headphones as it is one of the hottest beats (and songs) of 2008.
While “Roaring Flood” or even Educated Consumers’ “Write Hear” (released in 2007) isn’t exactly new per se, I have been bumpin’ the hell outta’ this album as of late. Even though I stated last year that “Write Hear” was one of the year’s best, after a few more listens I’ve come to realize that this album isn’t just good….it’s REALLY GOOD! The mic-holder of the duo, SeezMics has one of those very voices and flows that is extremely easy to listen to. Not only is SeezMics a dope emcee in his own right, but he’s something that very few emcees are…..he’s very comfortable and relaxed on the mic. You can actually tell that dude’s confident in his own skill-set as he delivers well thought-out verses that never come off as sounding rushed or senseless (read: he’s not just piecing together words at the end of a bar for the sole purpose of theme rhyming). Production-wise…..and fu*k I hate trying to spell this, but…t..E..C..K! is always on-point with sparse drum kicks that truly (and I’m not bullsh*tin’) have an early ta’ mid-nineties feel to them. The samples within the tracks are well placed and the breaks are just how I like em’, dusty yet crispy!
Really, there’s not one single downfall to this album. Every cut on “Write Hear” is enjoyable, and there’s not a single piece of “Fast-Forward” material to be found. This is actually the Educated Consumers 3rd album, their self-titled debut released was released in 2000, while “Aisle 2″, the follow-up released was released in 2001. Even with nearly a 6 year gap between releases, I’ll admit I’ve slept on these cats (and “Write Hear”) for quite some time…..shame on me! If you don’t find a way to get your sticky fingers on a copy of “Write Hear” within the next week? Well, shame on you! Please, take it from me, don’t overlook this release from two very talented individuals or you’ll be missing out on some of the underground’s finer elements.
All I can say is “Thank God For The Internet”!! I mean really, if it hadn’t been for my random browsing of “HHB” (well, not really “browsing”, but we all know why we visit “HHB”), would I have ever run across the video for “Soul Music”? Probably not, and I’m still wondering just how in the world they got their hands on this track. Whatever the case may be, I’m glad that I didn’t get the opportunity to peep an outstanding track from a very eclectic individual whose definitely got some worthwhile to say. Remember Public Enemy’s follow-up to the classic, “It Takes A Nation Of Millions…”, “Fear Of A Black Planet”? Well, when I first heard “Soul Music”, lyrically, I immediately thought that this track reminded me of a “Who Stole The Soul” Pt. II. However, the comparisons end there as “Soul Music” is more of a mid-tempo cut that is more, well….musical. I never thought I’d say that a song is more musically inclined than a Bomb Squad production but I would take “Soul Music” over “Who Stole The Soul” any day of the week. Of course, you already know that I’m a sucker for the Panaceas, Ill Poetics and Blu & Exiles of the world, good music that is not only emotional, but packs more than enough punch to keep your neck snappin’ as well.
“Soul Music” focuses on the godfathers of soul, the leaders who paved the well only to have the Timberlakes, Robin Thickes and Christana Aguilerras garner all the attention, you know the “Elvis Presley Dilemma”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m white, but dude’s definitely hammering home a valid point here. As for the production on the “Soul Music”, the track is backed by a thumping, quick-hitting bassline and sprinkled with some subtle keys. However, the track rises to new heights on the hook, which is so damn soulful it makes the hair on my arms stand up with every listen. As for Jah-I-Witness, he is currently working on his latest release, which will include “Soul Music”. Jah also has a group release titled “The Remnant Project” coming out soon. He also has an earlier release entitled “Stranger” that was pressed up a few years ago with very limited compies. On top of that there a bunch of other little side things that he’s involved in currently…just remember where you heard his name first. I think that Jah-I-Witness Emcee is definitely one talented artist that we’ll be hearing alot more from in the very near future!
“Personality? (check)/nice salary/nice bubble/stay out trouble” not the typical lyrics that fuel a chorus, especially when coming from the duo who brought you “8 Million Stories”. Again, not quite a “new” release, but after attaining nearly classic status with the aforementioned “8 Million..”, I’ll admit once i heard Blueprint & RJD’s (aka Soul Position) 2006 follow-up, “Things Go Be With RJ & AL”, I experienced a bit of a let-down. Not that the album wasn’t (or isn’t) dope, it’s just that I expected to be captivated and blown away, just like after the first listen to the moody “8 Million..”. Well, for whatever reason I’d gone nearly 2 years without giving “Things Go Better…” a second chance. However, with the recent release of “Blueprint vs. Funkadelic” I decided to dive a little deeper into Blueprint’s discography, being that he’s not only a solid emcee but a dope producer as well (see: “Chamber Music”). Needless to say, much of last week was dedicated to revisiting recordings such as “The Weight Room”, “Chamber Music”, “1988″ and of course, “Things Go Better..”. Let’s just say that the second time around was a much smoother ride than the first, in particular “Keep It Hot For Daddy”.
It is what the title suggest folks! If “Keep It Hot..” was done by anyone else but Blueprint and RJD2 (imagine some bullsh*t Down-South act rhyming this over a keyboard-only constructed “bounce”, fu*k outta’ here!) it may have run the risk of being labeled “corny” are a blatant attempt at urban crossover aka “radio airplay in the day”. However, this is a nice change of direction for the two, not necessarily something that you’d want to hear all the time, but still….very fresh! Blueprint delivers a confident swag on this one over RJD2 “herky-jerky” production, this is the kind of track that’s perfect for working out, or anything that involves a significant amount of effort. Sheeet, this track very well could have found it’s way into the clubs and the dance floors had it been given the right push. Also, don’t sleep on “Things Go Better…” even though many of you have expressed a dislike for RJ2′s production, Blueprint (much like SeezMics) always comes off fresh, delivering intricate rhymes with almost no wasted effort.
Once again, it’s Ohio producing another strong act as the producer emcee duo of Amos Famous and Bru Lei have managed to churn out a pretty darn good album. Bru Lei, while maybe not “deepest” emcee out there, is still very solid and having a good voice (like Guru said: “It’s mostly tha’ voice”) along with a delivery that is very reminiscent of an early Erick Sermon doesn’t hurt matters either. Matter of fact Danger Zone’s “Dangerous Styles” and the aforementioned “Write Hear” by the Educated Consumers are both very similar albums, especially production-wise as producer Amos Famous succeeds in bringin’ back “that ol’ Boom-Bap”. Both albums also follow the same structure guidelines, both Bru Lei and SeezMics (Educated Consumers) surely know how to pack enough “fun” in their rhymes to keep the party live, however, they also know when it’s time to get down ta’ bidness as well.
Formed in 2005, Danger Zone is the collaborative result of of a chance meeting between the emcee and producer while they were performing at the same show. A few beat cd’s and blunts later and the deal was sealed. Prior to “Dangerous Styles” the duo of Bru Lei and Amos Famous dropped a self-titled EP. Collectively, these two have rocked shows with some of the best, and with their debut full-length “Dangerous Styles” they set themselves up to be placed in that same category. For 17 solid tracks Danger Zone takes you on a journey from “Bright City Lights” to “Video Games” and “Addictions”. With guest appearances from Dove Ink label mates Illogic (who absolutely has KILLED every record I’ve ever heard him spit on…BTW, Ill Poetic is producing his forthcoming LP as well) & Ill Poetic, “Dangerous Styles” has almost instantly found itself amongst the best albums of 2008.
Admittedly, I’ve never been the biggest Atmosphere fan, and the recent collection of YouTube videos (and I mean collection, shit!) didn’t really convert me in to a true-blue fan either. However, the duo of Ant & Slug have churned out a good…..REALLY good album with their recent release, “When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Sh*t Gold”. While I wouldn’t exactly designate Atmosphere as “trend setters”, these cats are very innovative and have set out to carve their own path to truly push the envelope of what has become acceptable within the limits of a “traditional” Hip Hop album. And let’s face it, the outward appearance of these two isn’t considered exactly “Hip Hop” either, but fu*k it, who cares? “When Life Gives….” is probably in my top 5 releases of the year thus far, and I’ve never even owned an Atmosphere record besides “Seven’s Travels”, which my Wife (then Girlfriend) sent me in a “care package” when I was deployed in Iraq. Now, that was a pretty dope album as well as it provided the background music to alot of good memories that I took along with me following my term in the Military.
“Me” just so happens to be my favorite track from the album. Ant provides Slug with a beautiful sound scape for Slug to unveil his self-depreciating, reflective lyrics that perfectly describe his past while rapping in third person. It’s almost as if Slug is looking at himself in the mirror, revisiting a time line in his life that he would rather mend than regret. “Me” is super mellow and cooled out, mainly in part to the soothing guitar lick and the heavenly vocals that stray in the background. A word of advice, even if you aren’t the biggest Atmosphere follower (much like me), be sure to give “When Life Gives…” a listen, you won’t be wasting your time!
You know, I like to keep things fresh when I write a “Most Played” post. I mean, I try to hip ya’ll on new stuff, or even stuff that wasn’t discussed in the week prior. However, I’ve slept on Rashid Hadee’s “Dedication” so damn long, it’s only right that it receives it’s due mention. Last week it was “From 6 To 7″, twice actually (see: “Sample Appreciation”), and this week it’s “Watchin’ My Moves” a track which Hadee reunites with fellow Chapter 13 alumni, Young Valentine. Although, I prefer Hadee’s solo work compared to his work with Chapter 13, “Watchin’ My Moves” boast such a soulful production that it’s easy to overlook Valentine’s Mississippi twang’. Not to knock Valentine, but his flow and lyrics are somewhat of an odd fit over Hadee’s top-notch beats. Who knows, maybe it’s just me, because I’m definitely not accustomed to a lyricist with such a heave accent spitting over production like this. Sh*t, Hadee laced “Watchin” with the best 9th Wonder track that 9th never produced, and just in case you don’t know, Hadee is also responsible for “Dreams” from Little Brother’s minus 9th effort, “Get Back”.
Also, I don’t know if this is for public consumption or review purposes, but Trav hit me up with a Hadee mixtape he received this past week via e-mail. I haven’t even listened to it yet, but from what I’ve gathered it’s more or less a compilation of Rashid Hadee productions and features. Oh, and speakin’ of Little Brother, Rapper Big Pooh actually host this joint that is mixed by Cosm Roks, titled “A Change Gone Come”. So, here’s the link and you can peep the tracklisting below…..hmmm, looks good to me, I’ll have to check this out sometime today. Hell, if it’s even half as dope as “Dedication” or much of Hadee’s other production, you know that this mixtape will be dope!
01. Big Pooh Intro
02. “A Change Gon’ Come”
04. “You Can’t Hide”
05. “High Wednesday” Feat. Primeridian
06. “Heart Beat (Freestyle)”
07. “Back to Business” Feat. Melatone of Chapter 13 (Prod. By
08. “What is it” Feat. Astonish & Jay Vega
09. “Fresh” Feat. Visual
10. “Explode” (Prod. By Analogic)
11. “Dreams (Interlude)”
12. “Dreams” Feat. Little Brother
13. “Feels Good” (Prod. By Dj PHD)
14. “When We Rock” Feat. Abstract Mindstate & Iomos Marad
15. “We Roll (Freestyle)”
16. “Watchin’ My Moves”
17. “Standing for Something” Feat. Thaione Davis (Prod. By Madlib)
18. “Duck, Duck, Duck’ Feat. Young Valentine
19. “You Never Know” Feat. Furlee of The Landlords
20. “Getting’ It In” Feat. Donwill of Tanya Morgan
21. “Black Sunday” Feat. Augustine & KING
22. “Fallin” Feat. Abstract Mindstate & O-Type Star
24. “Surrender (Brand New Remix)” Feat. Rita J.
25. “Focused” Feat. F.O.O.D. (Decay & Selfish)
26. “Flyin’ High” Feat. Abstract Mindstate
27. “Oxygen” Feat. Pugs Atomz (Prod. By Pete Rock)
28. “All Day” Feat. Skinny Kenny
29. “Glam, Glitter” Feat. Cap D of All Natural
30. “How Long” Feat. KING
32. “My Life Story”
Note: All songs produced by Rashid Hadee and mixed by Cosm Rocks
Don’t get Prince Ali confused with Toronto’s Prince Ali (the same cat who drop that “free download” EP titled, “I Miss 1994″ about a year ago), this is the Hiero affiliate Prince Ali from the Bay who dropped “Curb Side Service” last year. Here’s just a little bio that I copied from Amazon.com, since I know very little about this cat even though I’m a big fan of his this mixtape, “Cornerstore Ensemble” and last year’s “Curb Side Service” (“California Cliff Notes” f. Pep Love actually made my “Top 100″ tracks of ’07):
“Bay Area rhymesayer Prince Ali’s verbal assault combines a flaunting, B-boy-like swagger with nuances of spirituality, a strong implication of his Souls of Mischief influence. Born in Oakland, CA, but raised a few miles south in Hayward, CA, Ali was inspired to be an MC in the mid-’80s by the king B-boys of hip-hop, Run-D.M.C. After he completed his graduate program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, he founded Eye5 Recordings in 2006, putting forth a stable of progressive rap artists, including L.A. hip-hop band Destruments and three-man crew Pacific Sonz (of which he is a member). That same year, Ali made noise with this underground mixtape, that contains “We The People”, “Corner Ensemble”, despite its limited distribution. Oakland hip-hop pioneers Hieroglyphics caught wind of the up-and-coming MC and picked up this mixtape and debut album, “Curb Side Service”, for proper release via Hiero Imperium/Fontana Distribution last year. The full-length from Ali “Curb Side Service”,featured Hiero members Pep Love, Tajai, and Casual as well as guest spots from Planet Asia and Keith Murray”.
“We The People” has been out for nearly two years now, well, not quite actually. I remember hearing this the same week that I copped Ill Poetic’s “TWIO” so I guess it’s not that old. Anyway, “We The People” is that knock Boyeeee! This track has the potential to be the avid breaker’s anthem as it possesses a much sampled drum break and the filtered horn loop on this joint is simply elegant. Ali as an adept lyricist who definitely has spent ample time with the Souls Of Mischief in his headphones. Couldn’t even begin to tell you why I’ve been bumpin’ this so much as of late, but I’m glad I dug this one back up as “We The People” is not to be missed!
Ahhh! Let’s push the envelope here a bit….beware: “They Say Vision” isn’t Hip Hop (gasp!)!! However, since it’s release in 2001 this has been my favorite non-Hip Hop track (maybe even album), simply put….Res is the shit. Why in the hell she hasn’t dropped another album in the 7 years is beyond me. While I’m not a big fan of posting “newer” albums, I do find justice in posting this overlooked debut (click it already dummy!) from Res. This album flew soo far under the radar that’s it’s almost an injustice. “How I Do” was released in 2001, in 2002 Res dropped the highly successful “They Say Vision” which skyrocketed to #1 on the Billboard dance charts. “Vision” was my introduction to “How I Do” and I’m glad I didn’t sleep on this release like most folks. To be brief, “How I Do” is solid from begining to end. Res is more than apt to keep the listener enertained with soothing vocals and excellent production. Also in 2002, Res dropped the single “Ice King” (which I loved) featuring Nas, but it failed miserably and needless to say Res feel off the map. Lately, Res has been touring with Gnarls Barkley providing background vocals and it’s good to see her on more recent bangers such as Madlib & Kweli’s collabo “Liberation” and Evidence’s “Weatherman LP”. It would be great to see her bless us with another solo album and I’m sure you will feel the same after hearing “How I Do”.
Editor’s Note: I actually had this “Most Played” sequenced from 1-10 on my Ipod and listened to it throughout the week, it’s a real dope mix if you put them all together. It turns out as a nice little mix….not that it matters, but whatever. Have a good week ya’ll and to all the Mothers out there have a Happy and Blessed Mother’s Day!