Yeppers, I know that it’s been a loooong minute since I’ve had the opportunity to actually sit down and offer you my various ramblings in regards to some of the latest “leaks” floating around the ‘net. Well, in short, let’s just say things have been very “hectic” to say the least on the work front. Still, not a moment has passed that I have forgone a chance to catch up on some of the hottest material out there. First things first, I recently received an advance copy of Common Market’s latest LP “Tobacco Road” (the follow-up to the very impressive EP “Black Patch War” released earlier this year) and let’s just say that it’s equally as potent as the Blue Scholars sleeper/gem “Bayani”, also released around this time last year. For those of you that have been under a rock for the past year of so, one half of Common Market is Blue Scholars’ producer extraordinaire Sabzi, while the microphone duties are more than aptly handled by the ecletic RA Scion. Criminally slept-on, Scion (whose beard makes Drew Gooden’s look “weak” by comparison) in my opinion is one of the deepest, lyrically potent emcees on the “market” right now! Equally as potent, is Sabzi’s bass heavy, melodic prodution that is very easy on the ears. For a prime example of Sabzi’s production wizadry, peep the way that he flips the Mic Geronimo classic “Masta I.C” (from Mic G’s ’95 classic “The Natural”) which provides a thumping backdrop to “Slow Cure”. Also, surely by now many of you have heard the title track to this album which still serves as the album’s highpoint. Don’t slumber on this album when it drops September 9th.
After last year’s release “Pure”, I wasn’t really sure if Buff 1 would be able to match the quality that one of 2007′s biggest surprises delivered, with his highly anticipated follow up “There’s Only One”. Holy Shit!!! Buff’s second attempt is fu*kin’ AMAZING!! It’s almost inevitable to not group this release along with all the hype that surrounds fellow Detroit resident Elzhi’s solo debut “The Preface”. However, after listening to “There’s Only One” constantly for the past two weeks I’m here to let you in on a lil’ secret. Three things are very apparent when comparing Buff’s solo effort and Elzhi’s debut: 1. Most of you already know that Black Milk handled the production duties on “The Preface”, and even though Black does contribute one track to the album (“Never Fall”), the production team of the Lab Techs (who handled all but one track on “There’s Only One”) trumps Milk’s usually outstanding work….BIG TIME!! If these cats aren’t in high demand after the spine tingling beats featured on this album, then the Hip Hop industry is insane!! 2. All in all, there’s really no comparison between the two (“Only One” & “The Preface”)….”There’s Only One” is the better album, POINT BLANK, there’s really no discussion. 3. Even though Elzhi may be the wittier of the two emcees, Buff 1 is right up there with my favorites in Hip Hop right now. As sad as it is to admit to some, there’s only two emcees (now three, if you include Buff) in the game who’s lyrics I can memorize after listening to their albums in full for just a few times, those “two” being Jay Z and….are you ready for this??…the Game!!! Buff is one of those emcees whose lyrics and delivery are extremely easy on the ears. All in all, a wonderful follow-up that only improves on it’s debut, easily one of the top three releases of the year thus far.
I downloaded this album from “HHB” a few weeks ago, after seein’ it pop up in Dart’s “For Doz That Slept” column in his weekly review series…so if Dart’s givin’ me a headz up I know it’s gotta be decent. In short, this Tokyo-born, Berlin-based producer & turntabilist’s sophomore LP “The Unfold” does not disappoint. Chalked full of faraway grooves and subtle, eargasmic undertones that keep the album fluid, Samon also scooped up quite an impressive line-up for this compilation of sorts. “The Unfold” also features appearances from some of the underground’s finest to include Kev Brown, Aloe Blacc, Ta’Raach and Oh No. The beats are the highlight of this album, as witnessed from the superb head-knocker “Right Here” were Samon gives Oh No a taste of his own medicine. “Right Here” is 3 minutes and 33 seconds of whiplash-inducing drums and strings, a track that bares a striking resemblance to some of Oh No’s fine production tactics that he’s garnered much props for. Plus, anytime anyone sprinkles a track with some of M.O.P.’s vocal antics it’s always a winner in my book. “Right Here” hits it’s apex near the 2:20 mark as the music goes from frantic to soothing…if that’s at all possible and the Pete Rock outro is a nice little added touch that pays homage to one of Hip Hop’s legendary beatmakers of all-time. Be sure to check this album out RIGHT HERE (props musical schizophrenia!), no pun intended. “Unfold” is a very cohesive, enjoyable piece of work from a little-known producer who may not be “little known” for very much longer. Oh, be sure to peep the Aloe Blacc (one of the most talented, underappreciated cats in Hip Hop) track “Try” as well……smooth as hell!
Oh, and while we’re on the topic of Oh No, it seems as if he is also trying his hand at remixing Percee’s ’07 release “Perseverance” once again! This coming after Oh No’s big brother Madlib handled the original production on “Perseverance” and then gave it another ‘go round in the winter of ’07 and remixed the project himself. However, plain and simple, this sh*t is banana sandwich!!! Oh No’s beats and sequencing seem to cater to Percee’s aggressive, rapid fire delivery, whereas the pairing of Madlib and Percee seemed to come off as “awkward” at times. Oh No’s production on this effort is top-notch, the bass thumps and there are moments where I feel as if I’m listening to some of the Bomb Squad’s earlier production. Matter of fact, I’m sitting here listening to this album in my headphones as I’m typing this and I’m just pissed at myself for not listening to the album more than what I already do!! Of all the efforts Oh No has put out, this has gotta’ be his crowning moment thus far and I’m a HUUUUGE fan of his debut, “The Disrupt”. Great stuff, Peep it HERE.
Man, I gotta admit I’m becoming a bit of a Tanya Morgan “STAN” as of late, going so far as to track down much of whatever they’ve laid down over the last few years (don’t sleep on “Moonlighting”!!). The trio of Tanya Morgan has already delivered some of ’08′s best work with the release of their EP “The Bridge”. Also of note, DonWill and producer Suhburb’s collabo “Suhburban Sprawl” was an unexpected surpise as well that reeked of originality and dirty, distorted production (in a good way, of course). I know that this collaborative effort between members DonWil and Ilyas leaked on DJ Low Key’s site earlier in the year but for reasons unknown it’s got lost in the sauce amongst the 300 GB’s on my spare hard drive and I’ve just recently put it in the mix. Clocking in at 31 tracks deep, IlWil’s “Beat Thieves 2″ is a roller-coaster ride of eclectic production and quality lyricism that is very welcome in Hip Hop’s landscape. One of the most impressive qualities of Tanya Morgan is that they’re not afraid to make fun of themselves, never taking themselves to seriously and that’s a rarity today. However, Ilyas’ “Telepathy” is just the opposite, an honest ode to the female sex and the attraction between male-female from Ilyas’ perspective over THUMPING production! Honestly, if you would’ve have asked me a few weeks ago, I’d have placed this amongst my top five singles of the year….however, I’ve bumped “Telepathy” to death over the last month or so and the slew of dope releases of late has bumped this one down a few notches. Still, don’t sleep on this talented trio and in the meanwhile, give “The Bridge” a listen while you’re at it!!
Uhhh…I got a quick question? Why in hell is no one even mentioning L.E.O.’s “Spiritual Intelligence”? You see the little fine print in the the lower left hand corner in the pic to your left? That’s right, produced by Large Professor….11 tracks….the whole album…produced by the one and only Large Pro! Okay, I know that statement may not hold alot of weight since the leak of Large Pro’s less than impressive “Main Source” hit the ‘net last week only to find itself amongst the pages of subpar reviews, but still. Trust me, I know just as much about L.E.O. as you do and the first question that I had after listening to this album is “why didn’t Large Pro keep some of these beats for his own sh*t?”. While L.E.O will suffice on the mic, he’s no Nas and lyrically he’s just average in my opinion. But the beats on this joint for the most part are….Wow!! I still can’t believe that this album is earning next to no ink, even if it’s solely based on it’s production merits. “Mother Of God”, even though the lyrics may contain a lil’ bit much religious dogma for my taste, is crazy nice!! Large Pro drops some of the finest production that we’ve heard from him in years and the Nas featured hooked is icing on the cake. In cased you missed out you can still DL “Spiritual Intelligence” HERE (via GrandGood…only 985 downloads? WTF???). I STILL can’t believe that Large Pro didn’t keep some of these beats for “Main Source” (shaking head)!?!
Maaan, I can’t find the production credits anywhere for Lil’ Dap solo effort “Presents I.A. Dap”. Although, if I had to put money on it, I’d bet that the legendary DJ Premier produced “World Peace”…it’s gotta’ be him!! Lyrically you know what you’re gonna’ get from the more..um…”lyrical” half of the Group Home. I mean, you can’t tell me that you scooped up the Group Home’s classic LP “Livin’ Proof” for the lyrics, can you? “World Peace” sounds like it could have made that very same album, with a crisp drum kick and filter and a Biggie sampled hook this track truly takes it back to 1995. However, dare if you must, the rest of the LP does leave something to be desired. Hold Up!!!! I stand corrected, I was just able to locate the production credits for the album and it wasn’t Primo who laced “World Peace” it was……Attic Sound???? Whatever, it’s still a dead on for a Primo track. I also see that the album also contains production features from Large Pro, Alchemist and Lil’ Dap himself….hmmmm. Peep the album HERE (via West Coast Gospel).
Yeah, yeah, yeah…we’re all aware of the drama surrounding Big Boi and Killer Mike…errr…there was “drama” I should say (it seems that recently the tension between the two has ceased). However, the real focus needs to be on Killer Mike’s most recent LP “I Pleade Allegiance To The Grind II”. Now don’t get it twisted, I’m as big of an “East Coast head” as you’ll find, outside of Outkast and a few others, I’ve never been a huge fan of “Southern” Hip Hop….especially with the most recent flood of B.S. emerging from that part of the map. However, Killer Mike nails it with this release, touching on a wide array of subject matter over trunk rattling beats that rattle your ribcage. “God Is In The Building” is as eerie as it gets. Over the same sample that PMD (of EPMD) popularized with the “Rugged N Raw” remix (that also featured Das Efx, I believe), Killer Mike goes for broke with a little assistance from an angelic hook that pairs up nicely with the tone of the sample. It doesn’t matter where you’re at or where you’re from, be sure not to let Killer Mike’s “I Pledge Allegiance….” fall upon deaf ears. “God…..Is….In…..Me”…
The GZA…GENIUS!!!! GotDamn!!! Dude came full circle with “Pro Tools” right? Let it be known, when this leaked last week…well….let’s just say out of all the albums that I..umm…previewed, this was the last one that I listened to. Not to say that I’m not a fan of the GZA’s body of work (Liquid Swords=CLASSIC), but outside of Ghost and the most recent Wu album, I tend not to get too excited about anything emerging from the Wu camp anymore. However, GZA just gave me a big “Fu*k You” with “Pro Tools”!! This album is without question his best album not named “Liquid Swords”, the lyrics are sharp the production is bangin’ (with a few small exceptions) and if I were rating this album I’d give it an easy 8/10. The true gem on “Pro Tools” is “7 Pounds”, which is produced by….you’ll never guess…Black Milk!?! I know, an odd pairing no doubt but it passed the test with flying colors. The only beef that I have with the track is that at 2:41 it’s entirely too short, especially when taking into account that it’s the highlight of the album. Juk, Jukka, Genius…take us the fu*ck outta’ here!!!!!
First things first, you remember A.D.O.R. of the Pete Rock produced classic “Let It All Hang Out”, right? Well, you can’t tell me that emcee Nieve doesn’t sound EXACTLY like him. What’s the relevance you ask, nothing really..just thought it was a nice little factoid. “Away With Words” is a “nice little album”. Sporting a jazzy/soulful/mellowed out vibe, “Away With Words” will more than likely fall between the crevices of the countless releases that will never garner much attention…but it should NOT be slept on…this album is real nice. It never fails to put in a positive state of mind, similar to the feeling I get when I listen to Theory Hazit’s latest joint “Lord Fire” and Ohmega Watts’ “Watts Happening”. “Story Be Told” reminds me alot of Braille’s “Many Stories” that I bumped the hell outta’ when “The IV Edition” first leaked, mostly in part to the belted, breezy hook. Also, don’t sleep on the Nomak remix of “Chronic Intoxication”, another joint that could have made this list as well.