With the end of March, it was the end of a rather sleepy first quarter. Usually, the first three months of a new year are always a little slow, but this year was especially slow up until the last two or three weeks of March. Thankfully a bunch of dope shit dropped to save the first quarter from being an entire flop. It also gives me another reason to drop a few lists. Today, we feature some of my favorite EPs, Instrumental Albums and Mixtapes that blessed my ears…..
1. Spork Kills - Beaches Love Us
No, it’s not the new Louis Logic project. It’s the Louis Dorley and Beatman & Rockin’ project. When one reads the biography of their latest EP, Beaches Love Us, one has to kinda wonder how something that is a “live band that fuses 60s surf rock with balkan, afro beat and hip hop styles,” will actually sound. The answer? Pretty damn good, if you have an open mind when listening to your music. It’s something different and the fusion of the smorgasbord of musical flavors works really well. You have to wonder what a whole album will be sounding like, hopefully we won’t have to wait too long.
2. Has-Lo - You Can Live Thru Anything If Magic Made It
We all knew Has-Lo could rap, and if you were into his music at all, you had heard his production, but did you really KNOW he could produce? Well, Has made sure you knew it after releasing his free EP, You Can Live Thru Anything If Magic Made It. Taking some hip hop classics, personal favorites and other goodies, Has made them his own by putting some of his dusty analoged funk on them. Tracks like Big Pun’s “Leather Face”, Ghost’s “Love Session” and Nas’ “Shootouts” all get bottom heavy, pounding drums boost from Hassy Davis. What’s next? Time shall see……
02 Big Pun – Leather Face (has-lo remix)
03 O.C. – Time’s Up (has-lo remix)
04 Royce Da 5′ 9, Elzhi & Supastition – Best To Do It (has-lo remix)
05 Cormega – Montana Diaries (has-lo remix)
06 Interlude #1
07 Ghostface Killah – Love Session (has-lo remix)
08 Sean Price – Onion Head (has-lo remix)
09 Common – Chi City (has-lo remix)
10 Nas – Shootouts (has-lo remix)
12 (Bonus Track) Tree Woodz – Move the Crowd (has-lo remix)
Common Market are favorites of many of the underground blogs, such as WYDU. Sabazi is quickly becoming one of the best underground producers east of the Pacific Ocean. The EP, Winter Ends, picks up where their full length album, Tobacco Road, left off, with dope beats and thought provoking lyrics. Coming in at five short and quick songs, they still pack a punch and get you geeked up for the next release they plan on dropping.
I’ll admit that I’m not usually a Brother Ali fan. Yes, I like Ant’s beats, and I think he is one heck of a lyricist, but his voice usually ends up grating on me before the end of an album. This time around though, I was impressed enough with everything else involved that it made his voice easier to get with. It’s not even that it’s an EP, it clocks in at nine songs, it’s just good music all the way around, with “Palm The Joker”, “Philistine David“, “The Believers”, and “Baby Don’t Go” all getting extended plays from me this year.
5. Inverse – So True
I think So Far, from Tunji and Toby the duo that is known as Inverse, was probably the first piece of music released this year, or at least the first from ’09 that I listened to. Inverse is a group that needs to release a full length project like yesterday. So True is a nice glimpse in what I think they can do, but I’m thinking they have yet to release the dogs on us.
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Crew54 - New Magic EP, ScholarMan – A Meeting With AK, Whygee & Sunken State – Suicide Watch
I’ve been on a BIG instrumental kick this year so far. There hasn’t been a ton of releases to pique my interest, but the three or four that have, man watch out. I’m not saying I really want to sit and listen to someones beat tape or anything, but if cats can make an instrumental jawn that can hold my attention and have some replay value behind it, more often than not, I’ll play that shit a lot.
1. Blueprint – Sign Language
It was a close decision between ‘Print’s Sign Language and the second place album. When you only have six tracks on your project, there isn’t much room for mistakes and on Sign Language, there are no mistakes, only great, emotion stirring tracks. I play this project daily, it’s great music to come home and chill to. I just wish there was a vinyl release for it, that’s the only thing I can fault it for.
2. Kid Hum - Fossil Fuel
Know the name Kid Hum, and know it well. This kid outta Denver (now residing on some tropical island out in the Pacific) dropped one of the most incredible instrumental albums I’ve heard in….well, a long ass while. Through the months of January and February I played this album daily. I still play it at least every few days now. I don’t want to say he sounds like Madlib or anybody that would lead to to high of expectations, but I think Kid Hum can hang with just about anyone when it comes to making an instrumental album. He also did beats on Whygee and Sunken State‘s EP, Suicide Watch, and has beats coming up for Cy Yung and I’m sure others I’m not yet aware of. The three track stretch of “Prayer”, “Church”, and “Bells” haunted my subconscious like nothing since Donuts. I think Kid Hum has a fan base that is just waiting to discover him.
Church – Kid Hum
Exile is a producer that has steadily moved up my ranks of favorite producers for awhile now. I always dug his work with Aloe Blacc as Emanon and of course his contribution to this decade’s classic Below The Heavens with Blu is something that legends are made of. My fondness for Radio comes in two parts, the first being the creativeness that went into it. Using stuff he found of the radio (read the CDs liner notes to get the full appreciation) is something that I’m pretty sure no one did before. Second, it’s just good music.
4. RCA Miles High – The Beat Tape
I know that I said I’d rather listen to a piece of work that is a full album than just a beat tape as far as instrumentals go, but RCA Miles High’s effort was too good to pass up on. If you can succeed in getting beats stuck in my mind for days at a time, then you are onto something. That’s exactly what RCA did with tracks like “Island Jazz”, “Free Beat”, “Sunset”, and my current favorite “My City.”
02. Island Jazz
03. Freedom Fighter
04. Coppin’ Trees
06. Free Beat
07. Take You There
08. Miles’ Jazz
09. Dale Mas
11. Get Down
14. My City
17. Stars Fell
18. Jazzy Chops
19. 4 Breakers
20. Stylin’ on Yo
5. Nomak - Muziq & Foto
I’ve dug the past couple Nomak related releases, so I was curious to check this project out. It’s not a bad effort, obviously it’s on this list. If you are fans of the Japanese jazz style production, then this obviously won’t disappoint in the least.
The question of “Is it a mixtape? Or is it a legit release?”, becomes more grey each year we go on. Before an artist used to drop a street single (Terrordome anyone?), now it’s a street album. I’m probably a little liberal with calling “mixtapes” straight albums, so if you don’t see something that you thought would be in here, it might end up on the album list that is coming tomorrow. I’m not the biggest fan of mixtapes usually, but there were some that were good enough to get some consistent listens out of these first three months.
1. Tanya Morgan Presents i-El – The Prelude
Tanya Morgan’s Ilyas released a very good mixtape that has all the reasons why I’m trippin’ for the next Tanya Morgan album that should be dropping sometime in May. I can’t say any of the three stand above the rest, but Ilyas makes a strong claim to be the top performer of the punch and wins the best solo mixtape award out of the three (although I know some cat’s will come at me for the Don’s).
2. A-Side Worldwide - We’re Winning (Mixed by DJ Graffiti)
Is it a mixtape or is it a podcast? I have it on CD and it’s mixed, so it’s a mixtape for me in the true essence. I still say Detroit has my favorite sound and most of my current favorite artists, and A-Side is down with a bunch of them. From Buff1, to Now On, to 14KT, they all pop on this project and bring the flavor. What’s coming out of A-Side and the rest of the crew? I’m thinking this upcoming Mayor Hawthorne project could be interesting (something about him and Stones Throw popped up in my inbox earlier this week). Good ish, good listen.
Subscribe to the podcast here.
Ur a Star – 14KT ft. Neco Redd
This Way – Now On
So Beautiful, So Lovely – Tres Styles
I Know The Secret – Buff1
For U (M-Phazes Remix) – Buff1
Weight Up (M-Phazes Remix) – Now On ft. Phat Kat
FoodChainGang – Buff1
This Time Around – Now On ft. Mayer Hawthorne
The Inside – 14KT
Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out (Astronote Remix) – Mayer Hawthorne
Get It Up – Crown Royale (Buff1 & DJ Rhettmatic)
All You Ever Knew – Now On
Real Appeal – Buff1 ft. Ab
RU??? – Athletic Mic League
Skyscrapers – Vaughan T
The Shift – Buff1
Write Back – Now On ft. Shawn Jackson
Love Handle – 14KT
Dance (14KT Remix) – Danny Brown
Doo It – Now On
Mixed by DJ Graffiti
3. Camp-Lo - Stone & Rob Caught On Tape
Always good to hear from Camp Lo, and while they may never reproduce the magic that was found on Uptown Saturday Night, they are still more interesting than 90% of the artists out there today. Sonny and Suede haven’t lost a step in their own brand of lyrical nonsense that in the end always sounds so dope.
4. Dashah – The Rap Burglar 2.0
One of the surprise releases of the year for me. I know next to nothing about the MC, Dashah, who hails out of Long Island, but I do know that his “Rap Burglar 2.5″ was a nice surprise. It’s nothing mind blowing, just solid rhymes and strong beats. It’s hard to s
ay what you are going to get when listening to an artist you haven’t heard anything about before, but this proved to be a great listen and has gotten a few more spins since that original listening session.
5. TiRon – Ketchup (Mixed by DJ Low Key)
I have a love/hate relationship with the “new” LA underground scene. Some of it borders on that new, and I hate using this term, hipster sound, which I can’t get with it. Some of it though is straight up good music. That’s what TiRon did with his mixtape, Ketchup. It’s more dope music than not, and he shows the potential of being one of the better young cats to come out of the LA underground scene.