The Album: Black Noise
With the exception of yU’s “Before Taxes, it’s safe to say that Aarophat & Illastrate’s “Black Noise” has been the most underrated album in Hip Hop in 2009. Hailing from Youngstown, Ohio, emcee Aarophat has made his presence felt on the scene working with Rasco of the Cali Agents. Rasco soon noticed the emcee’s confidence and potent delivery potent, inking Aarophat immediately. He soon sided with Pockets Linted/Fat Beats and later with Rawkus, yet it took “Black Noise” to really get us open to this prolific microphone controller.
Illastrate’s phenomenal qualities are always approaching newer levels as well, along with his knack for top-notch production, quality and style. Illastrate’s name now echos in the industry for his trademarked “dirty drums”, which can be heard on Akir’s “Legacy” as well as Dynas’, “The Apartment”. Illastrate’s has also served behind the boards are for Tiye Phoenix and Lords Of The Underground.
“Black Noise” is already being viewed as a “classic” underground LP amongst the masses. Both separately and jointly this duo has definitely proven themselves worthy of their rightful place on our “Next 30″. Aarophat and Illastrate have upped their ante for 2010, and because of this, their is no glass ceiling to what the future holds for this duo that are cut from the same cloth as Pete Rock & CL Smooth.
The Album(s): Skilled Trade & Make Do
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, 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 WeSc & Triumvir 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 on both “Skilled Trade” and his recent release, “Make Do” there’s no doubt that we’ll be hearing more from this Cleveland import by the way of Detroit City. Peep “Skilled Trade” HERE. “You’re Welcome! You’re ALL Welcome!!
Hailing from Paris, France, producer Astronote is quickly becoming one of the most respected new producers in Hip-Hop. The newest member of the A-Side Worldwide roster, Astronote is easily one of the most well rounded producers you’ll come across, with the ability to turn out top notch Hip-Hop, R&B, Funk, Soul & Pop tracks with or without samples. Having already built a resume that includes works with notable artists such as Talib Kweli, Buff1, Donwill of Tanya Morgan, Joell Ortiz, Guilty Simpson and Mayer Hawthorne, Astronote is poised to be one of the most notable producers in the game.
Astronote (producer of Now On’s “All You Ever Knew”) nailed it with his remix for the Biggie mixtape-favorite “Come On” (aka “C’mon Muthafu*kas). Capturing the true spirit of Biggie, Astronote ventured away from the futuristic/eclectro production found on Now On’s “Tomorrow Already” to truly take it back to the era when Bad Boy was runnin’ tings. Hell, the production on this joint (I think the original was recorded somewhere between 93′-94′…no later than 1995, I’m sure) even makes Sadat X come off as “rejuvenated”. Astronote’s reworking of some of Big’s “Greatest Hits”, has to go down as my favorite remix albums of all-time. If you haven’t peeped the best remix album on this side of Small Pro’s “Crooklyn Gangster”, slap yourself silly…Astronote captured the true essence of BK’s finest on “Bigger & Better”.
The Album: Ali’ Yah
Fresh off of his appearance on Jake One’s “White Van Music”, Seattle MC D.Black delivered a fine sophomore project with “Ali’Yah”, released on Sportn’ Life/MYX Music Label. The album explored the soulful side of hip hop, with thought provoking lyricism atop hard hitting beats. Boasting production from the likes of Jake One, Vitamin D and B. Brown, Ali’Yah was somewhat of a departure from Black’s debut CD (2006, “Cause and Effect”). His confident flow added layers to the music, making the album seem like a veteran created it. Laced with a spiritual essence, “Ali’Yah” has the strength of a mass choir and will leave you feeling rejuvenated. The album inspired, and took you to a place that’s needed, to get through the tough and trying times we live in today. It’s a brilliant work that further confirmed that the Northwest is still one of the world’s hot beds for musical talent.
The Album: “Motion Sound Picture”
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.