First and foremost, let me truly apologize to all my “frequent” readers for not updating this site in soo long. I just took over the reigns at another office which involves a 3-hour commute and most of the time, me living out of a hotel from Mon-Thurs. (no fun). Secondly, I’ve been playing “Mr. Mom” for the last month (and the next two weeks) as my wife has to fulfill her commitment to the Armed Forces (ahh, the “two weeks” a year thing). However, after being home with the girls and trying to operate two businesses simultaneously, when evening time rolls around, I’m lucky to make it through a game of NBA2K8 without crashing out on the couch with my headphones blaring in my ears. With that being said, I’ve been able to peep quite a few new releases over the last few weeks (usually on my travels to and from work) and I’d like to shed light on a few of those albums that you may have skipped over….call it another “THOUGHTS” post if you’d like. Oh, and for all you little kiddies out there lacing my “C-Box” with bullsh*t, I’m gonna’ put it back up, but play nice…if you’re intent is to sit on a computer and drop ignorant sh*t on someone’s homepage that is visible to friends, family and co-workers, to someone you don’t even know? Well, how big of a man does that make you?
Well, it looks like Ohio has done it once again! One album that I consider my “go to” joint is Ill Poetic’s “The World Is Ours”, no matter what frame of mind I may seem to be in, this album seems to always give me the goosebumps with each passing listen. After listening to one of the most overlooked posse cuts of the last decade, Ill Po’s “As I See It” (f. Piakhan, Illogic and the gentleman to your left), I decided to check up on one of the track’s featured artists Huntor Prey a bit. Luckily, I peeped his MySpace and found a “warm-up” of sorts available as a free download. As a precursor to Huntor Prey’s forthcoming full-length LP, “Motion Sound Picture”, this promo EP has found itself amongst the “25 Most Played” songs on my IPod over the last month (and, I’m not talking about a particular cut either, I mean the WHOLE EP).
Raised in Toledo, Ohio, Huntor Prey follows a strong line of artists (producers and emcees) that have emerged from one of the most overlooked states in Hip Hop over the last few years. Produced entirely by the aforementioned Ill Poetic, this promo has me foaming at the mouth for the official release of “Motion Sound Picture” (Definition Music). One can only imagine that the album has to be up to par with Illogic’s “Diabolical Fun” (also produced by Ill Poetic), in terms of both lyrics and beats. For someone that lists influences that range from Island Soca Music to Nine Inch Nails all the way back to 80′s power chord classics, Huntor Prey is quite an eclectic character that packs a backpack full of potent lyricism intertwined with vivid imagery.
The track that has truly blown me away is the pulsating tones of “Eventually” (click to listen), which has recently served as my “get open” track for those mornings where I can barely drag my ass into the gym for 5 a.m. workouts. One listen to this Ill Poetic-laced gem and it’s easy to see why “Eventually” gets the blood flowin’ at a rapid pace. Plus, a lil’ hint of M.O.P. thrown into to spice up the hook never hurt matters much either, considering that the vocal sample originates from the folks responsible for “How About Some Hardcore”, “Stick To Ya’ Gunz” and “Ante Up”. However, after speaking with Ill Po recently, it is yet to be decided if “Eventually” or another stellar track from “Motion..”, “Cornerstore” (click to listen) will serve as the first single from Huntor’s debut. Whatever the case, there’s no denying that “Motion Sound Picture” is destined for success with Huntor Prey spittin’ verbal wizardry and the most slept-on producer in the game behind the boards. Grab the promo for “Motion Sound Picture” (free DL) HERE.
Ummm, is it just me or has there been an abundance of “FREE” downloads that are patterning out to be waay better efforts than some of the albums that we actually pay for from established veterans in the game? With the release of Diamond District’s (Oddissee, XO & yU) “In The Ruff” a few ago, and now yU’s free album, “Before Taxes”, it’s a safe bet that you might as well shell over some hard-earned coin for the official (as in pay for) release of Oddisee’s “Mental Liberation” (dropping May 5th) just on the basis of association alone. It should also be noted that Diamond District’s “In The Ruff” dropped as a “clean” version and we should expect a retail version available with added bonus tracks sometime very soon. Let it be know, I’ve been a huge fan of Oddisee’s body of work, both lyrically and on the production tip, and aside from the “101″ and “102″ compilations my exposure to fellow Diamond District members X.O. and yU was fairly limited. However, with the release of “In The Ruff” and yU’s ridiculously consistent “Before Taxes”, the DC area isn’t just gonna’ be known for “Go-Go” music anymore!
I first took in yU’s “Before Taxes” mid-week, and needless to say…well, I’d have to put this one up there with Finale’s “A Pipe Dream And A Promise” (Finale also makes an appearance on what may very well be one of the strongest cuts on “Before Taxes”, the album’s finale, the bouncy “Brainwash”), tha Connection’s “Trapeze” and Illogic’s “Diabolical Fun” as some of the best music that I’ve experienced this year. There’s very few albums that after first listening to them one time, especially with my hyper-active, ADD-havin’ ass, that I’d want to hear twice in succession. “Before Taxes” got me through my evening e-mail responses, a game of NBA2K8 and a walk with my girls the next morning with relative ease and lots of enjoyment. You know the feeling you get when you have THAT album that is so damn solid that you’re almost afraid to listen to anything else new, knowing that what you hear can’t light a match to what’s been scratchin’ that itch, “Before Taxes” has been that album to me. If I had to pick just one word that would best capture the essence of this very surprising release from one of Maryland’s finest it would have to be “REFRESHING”!
yU is THAT DUDE, instantly it’s easy to gravitate to his delivery and his voice, in particular on tracks like “Beats And Rhymes (From March 25th)” and the head-nodder supreme, the Oddisee-produced “Lunchin”. I mean, not even knowin’ dude and judging from his music, yU just seems like a real likable, down to earth cat that speaks truth from the heart. And while Diamond District pal Oddisee may have a very distinguishable and easily identifiable “twang” (for lack of better wording) with the way in which he spits, yU has that same Southern drawl in his voice that is even more pronounced, that meshes perfectly with traditional East-Coast boom-bap that takes you back to 1993 on cuts like “Corners” (f. EyeQ) and the ridiculous flip of James Brown’s “Funky Drummer”, “InTheReign”. What also struck me as very impressive was that the majority of the project was actually produced by the 1978ers (yU & Slimkat78), but it also features some guest production from Kev Brown, Oddisee & Bilal Salaam.
This album is as solid as a bar of gold, not one dull moment, let alone a throw-away track. If you thought Diamond District’s “In The Ruff” was worth the listen, you NEED to check this album out! Admittedly, as impressed as I was with “In The Ruff”, yU’s “Before Taxes” has made Diamond District’s effort somewhat of a distant memory to me. Yes, it’s that good! Scoop it up HERE as a free DL, and in cased you missed it grab “In The Ruff” as well.
As of late, it seems as if I’m able to stomach full-length instrumental LPs. Normally, my attention would tend drift without any lyrics or a hook and nothing but the beats to enjoy. However, lately I’ve been enjoying albums loaded with beats more so than any else out there. Of course, stellar efforts from the likes of 14KT (“The Golden Hour”) and Exile (“Radio”..can you believe he freaked sh*t straight from the radio? CRAZY!) have allowed me to venture outside of my comfort zone more frequently than usual. Plus, you really have to be careful with what you chose from, being that everyone out there has been re-releasing there own version of “Donuts” (with lukewarm results) since Dilla has left us. Honestly, when I saw a leak for Apollo Brown’s “Skilled Trade”, coupled with the Detroit affiliation and the 30-song track listing (ahem, “Donuts” anyone?) and even an “R.I.P. Dilla” track I’d passed on the album as just another “Donuts” wannabe gone wrong. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong…
Funny Story (not really): By now you’ve all heard, what I also consider to be the most stellar beat of the year, the second half of Finale’s “Arrival”, the opener from “A Pipe Dream…”. Being that the track was produced by two relative “unknowns” (at least to me), the first half of the track laced by V-Tech and the later half, by Apollo Brown, I hadn’t really done my homework to venture into the discography of the two. So, I guess it was Thursday, I stop at a local kicks spot in Little Rock (Rock City Kicks) and I hear these tracks blaring through the speakers that are giving me a Craig Mack face, so damn funky they stink. Now, what’s booming isn’t just a typical “beat” cd, these tracks are playing more as songs which by now has really got my attention. So I ask the owner, “Corey, who in the hell is this playin”? while pointing up at the speakers. With his thick Arkansas accent Corey turns to me and replies: “Awww man, that’s Apollo Brown, some beat CD I downloaded last year”. Now, mind you, Corey’s musical taste has always been somewhat mind-blowing to me judging from his appearance. Of course, this is coming from the same dude that’s out shopping for Crooks and Castles tees in a 3-piece suit, so who am I to judge when I’m a walking contradiction? Needless to say, Apollo Brown was the first thing I entered in my Google “search” bar when I returned home.
Upon downloading “Skilled Trade”, I was very impressed with the first dozen or so cuts when I first heard the album. Then..BOOM! The angelic vocal sample that reeled me in on Finale’s “Arrival” (or “Depature” if you wanna’ get technical) blessed my eardrums with it’s mother, “Invisible”. Ahh, now it all comes to fruition, no wonder this sh*t is so dope, it’s from the same cat who blessed Finale! No joke, Apollo Brown’s got some serious beats!! Displaying a nice range of samples, flips and techniques there’s no doubt that we’ll be hearing more from this Cleveland import by the way of Detroit City. Oh, and let’s make it 3 for 3 in the Free Download department today: Peep “Skilled Trade” HERE. “You’re Welcome! You’re ALL Welcome!!
Eric’s “Top 10″ tracks for April
Nope, this one just ain’t goin’ away! A crazy-slick emcee over an elegant, poignant production from Flying Lotus = A surefire CLASSIC!!
2. “Eventually” (see above for link)-Huntor Prey
I swear, I had this track on repeat for like a week at the gym! There’s just something goin’ on when the hook hits that elevates this track to another platform.
My, my, my…it’s hard to believe that the sample that fuels “My Life” was also the backbone for Mobb Deep’s “Trife Life”. Two totally opposite tracks, yet both very effective. Good to see that U-N-I is living up to all the hype they’re received in blogosphere over the last 2 years or so.
I made mention of Elaquent and his sick LP, “After Midnight” a few weeks ago in a previous “THOUGHTS” post. “Gobstopper” is one track that would have made Dilla proud.
Why????? Why??? Crafted in the same veign as Rakim classics, “Don’t Sweat The Technique” and “Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em”, Verbal Kent really caught me off-guard with this one, in a good way. But, at only 1 minute and 26 seconds long? It would be scary to hear what this would sound like if given a full three minutes or so. “Fast Rapping Time” while instantly gratifying, kinda’ gives you blue balls.
Now, this is how efficient Hip Hop can be. This track flows effortlessly as Raydar killed it on the prodution tip. Slick horns, potent drums and a well-placed Method Man sample make “Build Up” a winner. While “Champs vs. The League” was solid, had it sounded like this the finished product would have been totally different.
Yet another track that is all too short (clocks in at less than 2 minutes), but still gets the job done, Stat Quo’s love doesn’t venture too far from the formula that made “Let’s Get Higher” so damn irresistible. Stat is truly “king of the catchy hook”, too bad Stat is too much of an enigma, and his most recent digital release “Smokin’ Mirrors” wasn’t anything to write home about.
As the highlight of a free ep from the AMG label, “Touch” features the gritty-Wu-Tang (circa 1993) feel that I can only hope comes back to Hip Hop in due time. The 3-man crew of Ill Poetix has got me open with this joint produced by my dude Sci-Fi (whom some of you may recognize from his work with tha Connection).
I may lose all creditability I’ve ever had with this selection, and the most recent “Rutgers”/Twitter” incident won’t help Asher’s cause either, but damnit I freakin’ love this track. While Asher’s lyrics aren’t anything special in the least bit, Don Cannon hit the nail on the head with this heat-rock. Too bad he wasted it on Asher.
Now, this is some interesting sh*t right here! Rather than craft a “tribute” album that sounds exactly like it’s original, the El Michels Affair has done the Wu proper justice with their reworkings of Wu-Tang Clan classics such as “C.R.E.A.M.”, “Can It Be All So Simple” and even O.D.B.’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” (which is my least favorite track on the LP). The one cut that really stood apart from the rest was “Heaven Or Hell”. Man, you gotta’ give the RZA his due props, dude really has an open mind when it comes to sample selections. However, El Michels flipped this live, so elegantly that it surpasses the original in terms of clarity and adding their own little highs and lows to the track. This is a great album, pick it up if you haven’t already!!