1. “Bonanza”-Common Market (“Zhare my flare/Mega-up my cuts”)
After blowing away the majority of Hip Hop’s underground last summer with his ridiculous production as one half of the Seattle duo Blue Scholars, producer Sabzi is back on the scene pairing up with RA Scion this time around for their tightly wrapped EP, “Black Patch War”. Oh, and by the way, isn’t it fresh to see the re-emergence of the EP again? (i.e, Analogic & Rashid Hadee’s “Serenade The Moment”, Tanya Morgan’s “The Bridge”, Has-Lo’s “Fu*k Has Day”, The Program’s “The Article” just to name a few) Sheeeet! I actually would much rather prefer that the artist(s) compile 7-10 of their best tracks, than unleash an album 16 tracks deep with only 1/4 of the tracks being solid. Anyway, back to Common Market’s “Black Patch War”, and I’m gonna’ go out on a limb here and state that this EP may very well be one of the top 3 releases mid-way through 2008 (damn, is it really June?). Even though, at times, RA Scion’s message may be a little too political for some, there’s absolutely no denyin’ that dude can straight up spit knowledge with the best of them along with a very attractive delivery to match. And Sabzi’s production?? Straight up and down, some of the best I’ve heard in awhile. Admittedly, I initially listened to this album back to back in the headphones when it first leaked and I really wasn’t that impressed, especially when considering that Beyonce also utilized the exact same sample that fuels Common Market’s first single, also titled “Black Patch War”. However, when I played this EP in the car, Sabzi’ production truly shined…especially on “Bonanza” (is that a Black Rob vocal sample I hear?). The rolling bass lines serve as a solid backbone for each and every track on this EP to elevate the overall “sound” of each track to new heights.
Meanwhile, for those of you that may have also slept on Common Market’s self-titled debut…it’s time to wake up! With tracks like “G’Dang Diggy”, “Connect For” & “Poison”, Scion & Sab’s debut collaboration might as well be first on your “albums to listen to” this week. Engulfing the duo’s debut only serves as a greater appreciation for the growth and cohesiveness that is displayed with the follow-up success of this EP release, “Black Patch War”.
Gotdamn! How did I go from Common Market to Prodigy? Talk about two opposite ends of your musical spectrum!! Strangely enough, I really haven’t heard (or read) very much positive feedback regarding Prodigy’s follow-up to Alchemist’s….errr….or P’s “warm-up”/mixtape/album, “Return Of The Mac”. Truth be told, I loved “Return Of The Mac”, especially when you take Alchemist’s throwback 70′s soul production into full account. And let it be known, “H.N.I.C. Pt. 2″ is right up there with the rest of my favs from this year as well. Can P’s lyrics hold a match to some of his earlier work as 1/2 of the “dun duo” better known as Mobb Deep? Or even his solo debut, “H.N.I.C.” (which was yet another heat-rock)? Ehhh, probably not…but who gives two sh*ts, right? Simply put, the majority of the production on “H.N.I.C. Pt. 2″ is raw, dark and creepy, or better yet the signature sound that many of you have grown to love comin’ from some of QB’s finest.
“Click Clack”, which features one of the grimiest voices in Hip Hop, Infamous Mobb’s Big Twin (too bad dude can barely put two bars together) follows suit with the rest of the album. Produced by Sid Roams aka Joey Chavez, whom along with DJ Khalil has solidified this cinematic, emotional, airy, keyboard reliant type of sound that is scratchin’ my itch right about now. Upon first listen, there’s no doubt in my mind that you too will also mistake Sid Roams’ production on “Click Clack” for that of the Alchemist. Easy mistake, being that Alchemist and Roams production styles are very similar and it also doesn’t help that this tag-team is also responsible for the majority of the beats on the album (with a couple tracks from Havoc as well). Again, as a friendly disclaimer: “Lyrics?…Somebody want lyrics?” Proceed to the next album on the Ipizzy , but for bone jarring production that damn near makes you wanna’ murk somethin’ yourself…this one’s for you my friend!
Emcees Biscuit and Jet Set Jay and DJ/Producer Mekalek have made quite a name for themselves over the last few years, garnering a nice little underground following with the success of their previous release “Slow Your Roll”. Sadly, I haven’t even peeped “Slow Your Roll” yet and the trio’s most recent release “Life Is Expensive” (lovin’ the cover art) was actually my first exposure to this LA-based squad. Elevating the outlook on their new album, Time Machine has successfully balanced the “good” times with a shrewd awareness of the cost of living in today’s state of near depression. Laced with high speed, up-tempo production and boasting heavy drum kicks overlayed with rich melodies, there is also room on here for a few ultrasonic, downtempo type joints (i.e, the album’s ill opener “In The City Of Everything”). If the momentum of their popularity keeps up with “Life Is Expensive’s” pace, we’ll definitely be hearing more from them on a more mainstream platform…and with groups like this crankin’ out good music, that can be good for almost stomach-turning state of commercial Hip Hop.
As you can expect with nearly any track that would feature a guest appearance from Greg Nice, Greg Niiiice! Greg N-I-C-E (“ahh wee wee/Rock for a fee”) there’s nothing really all that serious going on within “The Unfortunate Twist”. No hidden agendas, or thought-provoking lyrics, just straight up, grab your nuts and freestyle type rhymes. Loads of story-telling wordplay with a catchy hook from Greg Nice (“Do the twist/Do the twist/The Unfortunate Twist”…do the twist”) intact, “Unfortunate..” is simply one of those tracks that you’ll hear first thing in the morning on the way to work and throughout the day, no matter how hard you try you just can’t seem to get that damn song outta’ your head. Plus, it also helps when both of your emcees are catchy as hell too. Man, I need to hip myself to some of Time Machine’s earlier work as well!
Warning: All you fraudulent, phony emcees out there fakin’ jax…it’s time to step up your lyrics son! Or, better yet, you’re bound to put yourself in harm’s way of a mighty healthy barrage of lyrics from a (*gasp*) female who is yet only one more impressive emcee to emerge from the “D”. Yep, that’s right fellas’ the wait is OVA!! With the forthcoming release of “ShapeShifters”, “Mrs. Lyrics Galore” aka Invincible is bound to catch the attention of any true Hip Hop head within earshot. To be released on the label that also blessed us in ’07 with Waajeed’s “The War LP” (Bling 47), Invincible boasts not only an impressive resume herself but also an all-star lineup of production talent for “ShapeShifters”. Not only does the album feature bangers laced by resident “heir to Dilla’s throne” Black Milk, but also beats from the Lab Techs (Buff 1) and of course Waajeed. I’m tellin’ you right now (thanks Dizzart!) that if you love some of the quality that has been delivered via Detroit over the last year or so (and, even if you don’t ) this album is right up your alley! Hell, why beat around the bush? At least in my opinion, this album sh*ts all over “Ode To The Ghetto”, “Carte Blance”, “Popular Demand” and “The Set Up”! Cohesive as a muhfuc*a’, Invincible showcases all the great qualities that any aspiring emcee should carry in their “battle pack”, story-tellin’ skills, adequate battle rhymes and a crowd-demanding delivery and cadence. Damn, enough already…you’ll have to hold your horses for a minute, the album doesn’t hit stores for at least couple of weeks (June 17th, to be exact) and I’m with Dart on this one….I too believe in this album so much that I’ll be damned if I’m leaking it!! However, you can do yourself a solid and pick it up HERE in the meantime.
“Ropes”, which features production from Knowledge, is a track that nearly everyone can relate to. We’ve all been down that road where you struggle to make a dollar, while at the same time coping with all of life’s ills. Also, Knowledge laces Invincible’s potent lyricism with a definite banger that will instantly draw comparisons to much of Black Milk’s work. Make no bones about it though, with beats like this Knowledge will soon separate himself from much of the pack. Straight up and down, Invincible’s long awaited solo debut “ShapeShifters” is a definite must cop. I’m anxious to see just where this album will find itself among the “Best of ’08″ lists.
Sick, fuc*in’ SICK!!! One word that best describes DJ Khalil’s production as of late. From Chase Infinite & DJ Khalil’s forthcoming LP, “Come In Peace, Prepare For War”, “Of Our Own” is a sonic-fused beast of a track. Taking a page out of Roger Troutman’s and Teddy Riley’s book with the “voice-esizer”, DJ Khalil provides a very appropriate track that coordinates perfectly with the album’s title. While I loved ’05′s “Change”, I’ve never been a huge fan of Chase Infinite’s lyrics over Khalil’s pulsing production. Not to take anything away from Chase ’cause dude is definitely a potent lyricist, it’s just that I’d much rather here….mmm, say..Evidence (see: “All Said and Done” from EV’s “The Weatherman”) over Khalil’s beats. By the way, did anyone else peep Khalil’s work for Nas’ new album? (which apparently has changed title’s yet again). Many you of you may not know that Khalil was also responsible for making 50 Cent’s “I’ll Still Kill” at least somewhat bearable. I’m tellin’ you, Khalil is a producer you need to keep your eyes tuned in for in ’08-’09. I’m actually really looking forward to “Come In Peace..” as well, being that Self Scientific’s “Change” was laced with soo much heat….to include, “Tears”, “King Kong” and the album’s title cut.