Taken From: Surreal & DJ Balance’s “Future Classic”
Damn yo, talk about SLEEPIN’!!! I can recall seeing Surreal & DJ Balance’s “Future Classic” pop up on it’s fair share of “Year End Lists” back near the finish of 2006. Yet, it boggles my mind how I overlooked this masterfully constructed LP.
14 tracks of boom-bap brilliance! The title “Future Classic” suggests a lofty goal which Surreal and DJ Balance attained with ease. Some might feel the mark was reached, others may disagree, but we know that by reaching for such a goal – Surreal and DJ Balance put forth their best effort with this release, and the results speak for themselves. What more can you ask for? From the party rocking joints like “Can’t Stop The Bumrush” and “Yeah Boy”, to the introspective jams like the featured cut “Moment in Time” and “Let the Horns Blow”, this record is filled with potential “classics”. It’s a privilege for me to “take in” an album such as “Future Classic”, a positive album void of cusses, gun-brandishing and women bashing, just pure dope, raw Hip Hop. The album features production and appearances from the likes of The Soundproviders, Ohmega Watts, Kero One, Braille, Sivion, MoO (who produced “Moment In Time”), Theory Hazit, Tony Stone and more.
Taken From: Quest’s recently leaked mixtape “How Thoughtful”
Due to the fact that much of the production found on Miami based-emcee Quest’s “How Thoughtful” is comprised of re-working classics such as Tribe’s “Lyrics To Go” (on “Lyrics To Go”..duh), yet another rehashing of “Exhibit C” (“Exhibit Q”), and even a clever take on the Goapele classic “Closer” (“Just A Little Closer”), I can’t quite put my finger on who just may have laced the beat for “Swear I’m Putting On” (well then, thank good for “Google”, the production on this gem was handled by Numonics). The dense, airy backdrop instantly reminds you of 9th Wonder’s “Fruity Loops” circa 2004, but it’s not just the beat that reeled me in on this one. Some of you may even recall Quest’s “Distant Travels Into Soul Theory” which dropped sometime around last spring, which was one of my favorite mixtapes of 2009. Even better, you can catch up on much of Quest’s prior work HERE. I really like this cat as his rhyme style reminds me of the early Pharcyde, Native Tongues days. Quest isn’t trying to overwhelm you with bling, cars and the usual banter, you can see that whatever Quest spits is usually heartfelt, and most importantly…real.
3. “Hold You Down”-Laws
Taken From: Laws’ mixtape “4:57″
Wooooo!!!, you’re a fool for this one Khalil!!! With production on “4:57″ from the likes of the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. L.E.A.G.U.E. and 9th Wonder, it’s easy to hear that the DJ Khalil (Self Scientific)-laced “Hold You Down” bangs the hardest with a beat that is eerily similar to Self Scietific’s 2008 smash “Of Our Own”. Speaking of emcees with a Pharcydish’ delivery and voice, go right ahead and throw Laws (whom you may recall from his 2009-mixtape release “Your Future Favorite Rapper”, that included heaters such as the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. L.E.A.G.U.E.-produced heater, “Boys To Men”) in that category as well, although I’m not completely sold on Laws’ lyricism on this effort just yet. For every bar that is “rewind-worthy”, Laws is just as prone to drop a “dud” on the next 16. Still, there is much more good than wastage on “4:57″ well worth the MBs on your hard drive.
Taken From: Freddie’s “Dust” EP, download the EP HERE
Talk about 2 minutes of pure, instrumental bliss! Freddie has done it yet again, this time hot on the heels of the extremely well-produced Organalogy EP, “Getaway”. With a focus on classic soul samples, “Dust”, when played in it’s entirety only leaves you yearning for more than just the five cuts that are inclusive on this FreEP. It’s amazing that some of the more mainstream, jazz-influenced, underground emcees out there have yet to “link up” with this cat. Whether it was Freddie’s “In With Time” LP, or “Study Guide”, Joachim’s collaboration with Question, this cat is good for at least four to five TRUE bangers on each release that usually end up being some of the best instrumental cuts of that particular year. What are you waiting for, has your download for “Dust” not completed yet? Upload this to your Itunes library stat!!!
Taken From: LMNO’s recent release, “Push That Work”
Let’s be real for a minute, LMNO (Leave My Name Out) doesn’t posses the smoothest of voices in Hip Hop, and his delivery (while the lyrical content does the job, quite nicely in fact) is very choppy, purposely so, yet hard to “take a liking to” for some. However, despite all those obstacles that LMNO has had to overcome on the front end of things, dude has dropped some very strong releases as of late, to include his 2009 working with producer Yann Kesz, “Devilish Dandruff With Holy Shampoo” and more recently with his “Push That Work” LP. From the man who once did a cameo appearance in D.O.C.’s video for “The Formula”, LMNO has an impressive catalog of work for those who may be unfamiliar, the left coast lyricist is now continuing to further his musical exploits, collaborating with producer LD to give birth to “Push That Work”. While there’s some fat that could have been trimmed off around the edges, it’s tracks like the aforementioned “Make A Mark” that evoke early images of the Bomb Squad, while “It’s Time” rivals the elegance of early Pete Rock productions.