1. Has – Lo (Mello Music Group)
First and foremost, Philly’s very own, Has-Lo has been one of my favorite rappers since Trav put me on to Has’ debut solo EP, “Fu*k Has Day” way back in 2007. Now, in 2011 with backing from one of the strongest labels in Hip Hop right now, Mello Music Group, Has is set to release the daring, insightful and emotive, “In Case I Don’t Make It” on March 29th. We here at B-House have had the album in rotation for nearly a year now and I’ll just leave you with this: WOW…
2. Midaz The Beast (Doxside Music Group)
Simply put, Doxside Music Group’s Midaz The Beast is the closest thing you’ll hear to the “Wanted: Dead or Alive” Kool G Rap for 2011 and beyond. Even with one of the 2010′s finer mixtapes under his belt, the venomous verses atop the lovely instrumentation from El Michels Affair, “El Midaz Affair” coupled with his outing alongside producer extraordinaire IMAKEMADBEATS, “The Nighlight EP”, it’s safe to say that Midaz has barely scratched the surface. 2011 is gonna’ be the year that Midaz puts it all together and truly becomes a lyrical mainstay, but for now, you’ll have to settle for one of the better lyrical performances you’ll hear this year via the title cut from IMAKEMADBEATS’ recent solo outing of the same name.
3. Tyler The Creator (Independent, XL Recordings)
‘Uff the hype kiddo, this kid is the real deal!! All comparisons to the Gravediggaz and Em aside, Tyler for all intents and purposes is the RZA to Odd Future‘s Wu-Tang. With a video that’s so daring it’s already left the collective internets’ mouth agape with the debut from his “Goblin” LP, “Yonkers”, the Odd Future collective has taken the entertainment world by storm with recent appearances on and in The Jimmy Fallon Show, MTV, Esquire, etc. Being a married man and father of two darling little girls, “Yonkers” is not something that I should be bumping on a daily basis, yet on the same token, I’m completely addicted to Tyler’s gravely delivery and production that’s simplicity at it’s finest a la RZA’s performance on “Liquid Swords”. Speaking of which, does the production for “Yonkers” remind anyone else of the title cut from the classic GZA debut? I’m jus’ sayin…
4. Hasaan Mackey (Mello Music Group)
You may recall Hasaan as part of the lukewarm Rawkus 50 campaign from a few years back, the campaign of which also featured Mackey’s solo outing “Soul For Sale”. However, in 2010 Mackey left his imprint on the underground with scene stealing performances on two Mello Music Group releases, Apollo Brown’s “The Reset” (“Odds Ain’t Fair) and the Left’s seminal classic “Gas Mask” (“How We Live”). Yet, the best is yet to come as Hasaan reconnects with Apollo Brown to unleash the collaborative LP “Daily Bread” in the coming months. Boasting one of the most powerful voices in the game, Hasaan paints vivid pictures of the inner city streets with a delivery that is rivaled only by a select few.
5. Meyhem Lauren (J-Love Ent.)
Lo-Life affiliate Meyhem Lauren has brought back that raw, gutter, Black Moon circa ’93, East Coast boom bap back! First it was the ode to graffiti, and one of the strongest cuts of 2010, “Got The Fever” that put me on to Lauren. But it’s the 41-track, fill ‘er up to the rim, “Self-Induced Illness” that solidifies just how ill this cat is! Even if the videos that have accompanied “..Illness” as of late have left something to be desired, there’s no fronting on Meyhem musically. Although I wouldn’t advise you to take in all 41 cuts in one sitting, “Self Induced Illness” has been a true treat to us die-hard Golden Era heads that keep holding on to the thought that everything goes in cycles, and maybe…just maybe we’ll witness those days ago. For now, “Self Induced Illness’ will hold us over in the meantime!