1. “The Blueprint 3 Outtakes”-Alex Goose (Click to DL)
What’s that you say? Who is Alex Goose? Well, trust me after learning that Danny’s! forthcoming “Where’s Danny?” LP is comprised only of rough demos and is not the finalized version (somebody is fuc*in’ up with this one!), Alex Goose went from nobody (not exactly) to somebody in a matter of two weeks. The album (“Where’s Danny?”), which I mistakenly mentioned that Danny! produced, is fueled by the production wizardry of none other than Alex himself. Quite honestly, few albums have exuded that instant WOW! factor this year, but “Where’s Danny?” is one of them. Also, while I may have slumbered on Alex’s beat submissions for Jay-Z’s “Blueprint 3″, it’s nice to imagine what Mr. Carter would have sounded like atop Goose’s quirky, sample-heavy production. Keep your eyes (Alex also specializes in art direction and graphic design) and ears peeled for Alex Goose in 2010, especially with a “proper” release of the Danny! masterpiece just around the corner…hopefully!
2. TFM (The Find Magazine), Freddie Joachim, Mellow Orange – Bridgework Mix (Click for DL and Track Listing)
While “Bridgework” isn’t exactly classified as “proper release” per se, The Find Mag with assistance from Freddie Joachim and Mellow Orange have pieced together one of the finest mixes that I’ve heard in quite sometime with this week’s release of “Bridgework”. Comprised of Jazz-Hop compositions from the likes of Dela, Othello, Suff Daddy and Joachim himself (oh, and let’s not forget to mention 14KT), this mix is a perfect fit for any occasions, whether it’s a warm summer evening…or, in my case I’ll be playing this in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner (well, at least until the Ghostface vocal sample “when you see me comin’/get the fu*k out the entrance” arises mid-way through the mix (I got kiddddds maaan!). The only beef that I have with “Bridgework” is that it’s just one MP3 with no individual tracks…that’s just me being picky though.
It also may be to early to say you have “slept-on” “Bridgework”, but honestly speaking I’ve slept on the culprits of this mix, The Find Mag! Point blank, there is NO ONE in blogosphere in the past year that has done for underground hip-hop as what the cats at Find have done. I mean, these cats actually developed a magazine that features interviews and articles on artists that the underground follows, yet would never see gracing the pages of XXL or The Source. So my hat is off to you Find Mag, I could only hope that one day I can stroll past the magazine rack in the local grocery and throw and issue of The Find in my shopping cart for checkout.
Yet another artist emerges from one of Hip Hop’s overlooked hotbeds, Columbus, Ohio on one of it’s most underrated labels, Weightless Recordings. Zero Star, who’s no “new-jack” to the game, dropped the free EP “Are We There Yet?” (along with the instrumentals) back in the later stages of summer, yet went the EP went largely unnoticed. Featuring production from the likes of K81 (who’s responsible for my favorite track from the EP, “Everybody”) and Lattimore Platz, “Are We There Yet?” is a very solid, if not spectacular 5-song offering from an artist who’ll receive his due shine once his full-length, “Maybe I’m Joking, Maybe I’m Not” (produced by Weightless founder, Blueprint) hits the shelves.
4. “The New Classics”-Cook Classics (Click To DL)
For those that can remember, I’ve been quite a fan of the production techniques of CA’s Cook Classics for a minute, even featuring Nieve & Cook’s “Story Be Told” on last winter’s “Preservation” mixtape. It’s actually very hard to describe Cook’s style, not quite hardcore Hip Hop, yet some of his beats actually have somewhat of a pop, electronic feel to them without losing thier edginess. Cook’s Vimby sponsored mixtape, “The New Classics” actually dropped as a free download near the start of 2010 yet for reasons unexplainable, didn’t hit me eardrums until the early days of this month. I must say, usually I’m somewhat skeptical of albums/mixtapes such as this; albums that feature an overabundance of artists, some of whom just don’t sound at ease atop the contributing beatmaker’s production. However, in the instance of “The New Classics” acts such as underground mainstays Pac Div, Shawn Jackson, Emilio Rojas, Sean Price and Torae sound right at home, flowing effortlessly over Cook’s truly unique productions.
5. “The Stuggle, The Love, The Glory”-Jah I Witness Emcee (Grab the album on Itunes)
You know what? Jah-I Wintess Emcee’s collection of various tracks with producers from around the world, “The Struggle, The Love, The Glory” may have dropped in December of 2008, yet I’m willing to bet the farm that none of you have given the album a chance despite his solid showing with “Soul Music”. One of my favorite tracks from ’08, “Soul Music” possessed one of the freshest bridges that I’ve heard in quite sometime and the track even had an abundance of anthemic qualities, but for reasons unknown just never seemed to catch on. “The Struggle…” is one of the better albums to emerge from the depths of the CD BABY-type of underground…I’m not talking Dilated Peoples-Underground….I’m talkin’ mom and pops’ store-underground, meaning-if you’ve never seen it mentioned in the blogs you’ll probably never have the chance to experience an album like this. Be sure to peep some of my favorites from the album “Make Money” (f. Range & Kinetic) and “Here In The Ghetto”. Matter of fact, head on over to Amazon.com and give the album a listen and maybe even a purchase (*gasp*). The gift and the curse of “The Struggle..” is that it’s even too underground to search for a download link. Also, I must mention you can get the album on Itunes as well. In any case, Jah offers up a nice mixture of sounds for “The Struggle..”, and I must quote Gita Yegane Arani-May and her take on the album as I share the same sentiments:
“This cd is a real treasure to me. I’m not an expert in the genre, but this is exactly what fascinates me: it’s special to find the type of music that you love no matter from which style you yourself come. The Struggle, The Love, The Glory by Jah-I-Witness fulfills this criterion. One loves this music independent of ones own musical background. Good music can bring people together.”
6. “Just A Game”-the Kickdrums (Click To DL)
The Ohio-based production duo, The Kickdrums are notorious for spending hours in recording studios to tweek just that right sound to perfection. That same work effort and persistance led to an energetic, percussion-friendly sound embraced by many Hip Hop artists, ranging from Slaughterhouse to Lupe Fiasco. However, their trademark style was surprisingly not the dominant sound of The Kickdrums’ debut EP, “Just A Game” As recording artists, the duo of Alex Fitts and Matt Penttila strived to prove that they were more than just creative Hip Hop producers with this release. “Just A Game” ends being a little more on the Rock/Alternative side of the playing field, yet you can still feel the Hip Hop influence on the majority of the album’s 10 cuts, especially on the album’s pulsing title track. While the Kickdrums have already proven themselves capable as producers, “Just A Game” showed that they are an extremlely versatile production duo that will be around for years to come.
7. “Skipp Whitman vs. Richard Pryor (Click To DL)
You may have seen Skip Whitman in these pages waaaay back in the summer of 2007, following the release of “Free Agent”. Impressed with the flow and delivery of this Boston emcee, I’ve always kept up with this musical output. Needless to say, Skipp didn’t disappoint with the release of his Richard Pryor (!) hosted mixtape, the appropriately titled “Skipp Whitman vs. Richard Pryor”. Normally, this type of mixtape, one where an artist borrows instrumentals from the likes of J-Dilla, ‘Ye, etc., isn’t exactly my cup of tea. However, Skipp is one of the more lyrically-clever emcees that you’ve never heard of. The kid who proclaims he’s “whiter than a batch of sold out G-Shocks” keeps you eager to listen with his clever, sometimes comedic punchlines that are a perfect fit with the Richard Pryor excerpts that are inserted between tracks. Matter of fact, I think the Richard Pryor camp pulled this version of the mixtape, but you can get it here while it last. Happy Thanksgiving! Now, can we get another album Skipp?
8. “The AMG EP”-Ill Poetix (Click To DL)
Not to be confused with W.T.R. fav, Ill Poetic, this three man crew comprised of The 4th, 808 (Stop 1) and Ivisuai took it back to 1993 with their free AMG (Advantage Music Group) EP. The highlight of this free ep from their label arrives via the soulful, “Touch”. A track that features the gritty-Wu-Tang (circa 1993) feel that I can only hope comes back to Hip Hop in due time, “Touch” makes you wish that this was more than just a 5-song EP. The triumvirate of Ill Poetix has me eagerly anticipating more quality music from the crew in 2010. If there’s more to come in the same vein as “Touch”, which was also produced by my dude Sci-Fi (whom some of you may recognize from his work with tha Connection), then allow me to get a ticket for that train ride!
9. yU Presents: The Charlie Ross Project (Click To DL)
DMV MC/Producer Charlie Ross, hot off the heels of the success and notoriety of Diamond District’s “In The Ruff”, dropped his very own “project”, one that was oddly enough birthed in Okinawa, Japan. To be honest, this is the first I’d heard of Charlie, and hopefully it won’t be the last. The project was presented by yU of Diamond District, whom I sure you know, dropped probably what is my favorite album of 2009 with “Before Taxes”. Sonically and lyrically, this is exactly the kind of music I treasure most. “The Charlie Ross Project” features your traditional thump in the trunk coupled with a spaced out electronic flair and a hint of jazz. The beats are some of the best that I experienced in 2009, especially with the thumping, airy “What A World”. Also, with forthcoming project with the likes of the aforementioned yU (“Done Deal” EP) and Charlie’s very own “Crate Music” beat tape, it’s only right that the DMV will keep on churning the quality of music that they did this past year.
10. “RealMatic”-XO (Click To DL)
The solo mixtape from the DMV’s very own, XO was definitely a “grower” for me. Upon first hearing “RealMatic”, I must admit, out of all three of the emcees in Diamond District (yU, Oddisee and XO), XO definitely had the most D.C. flavor of the whole group because of his multiple tracks with go-go inspired beats (”Intro”, “Get Get”,”Not To Be ****ed With”). Prior to this release, I was usually skeptical of go-go beats in Hip-Hop, outside of Wale. However, XO definitely didn’t beat a dead horse or misuse them in the least. Also, there’s more to the album than just the “go-go” inspiration as several songs feature your more traditional “call and response” Hip-Hop (”Get Rich”, “Money Calling”, “I Made It”). It’s on those same tracks that find XO making the easy transition, showcasing his cadence and grimey delivery. XO has very few features on the tracks which gives him a chance to showcase his own lyrics and only one track, “Not To Be ****ed With”, has more than one person featured. PS..if you haven’t copped Diamond District’s “In The Ruff” yet, you lose.