For those who continue to sleep on the Green Llama movement, Decay (a Chicago native) and Fluent (reppin’ the “former” city of Lebron, Akron, OH) are the founding members of one of the illest, most slept-on underground collectives of the moment. You may recall me hyping up the duo’s first notable output “The Antique Black” waaay back in the middle portion of ’07. Also, what I consider to be one of Hip Hop’s greatest travesties ever, is that cats still continue to sleep on an LP that I consistently place in my Top 50 records of All-Time, Uncut Raw’s (Selfish on the lyrics and Fluent on the production tip) phenomenal outing “First Toke”.
Duplicating the same ill, l0-fi vibe of “First Toke”, The Money And His Fool”, while lacking the one true knock-out punch (the closest representation of a true HIT, would be the album’s first single, “Back On It”), is an LP that reeks of consistency. From the start of one of the illest “intros” that I’ve ever heard on record (“And So It Went”) to the album’s elegant closer, “A High Note”, Decay and Fluent once again deliver an LP that has “cult classic” stamped all over it. Yet, sadly, “The Money And His Fool”, much like it’s partners “The Antique Black” and “First Toke” will continue to go largely unnoticed.
In somewhat of an odd and even surprising pairing Marq Spekt, who’s released a handful of overlooked releases (alongside Karniege with Invizzibl Men and as a member of the Broady Champs) linked up with Cunninlynguists’ Kno to release a dark, haunting and even at times violent LP with “Machete Vision”.
While Spekt isn’t everyone’s cup of tea on the mic, at times Spekt is reminiscent of Capadonna with his delivery, with the exception that Spekt often “makes sense”. Yet, it’s the production wizardry of everyone’s emo-Primo, Kno that captivates the listener with unexpected twists and turns, with production that even surpasses his performance found on Cunninlyguists‘ “Oneirology”, released earlier this year. Also, guest appearances from Action Bronson, Cunnin’s Deacon and Meyhem Lauren are a welcomed addition to “Machete Vision”.
Ya’ know, I hate to preface this blog about Rahseed Chappell‘s “Future Before Nostalgia” by stating that the album truly possesses that Golden Era essence and feel that us old heads miss soo damn much. I know, sounds kinda’ lame and redundant, right? Regardless, with production solely handled by Kenny Dope and features from the likes of EPMD scratch-master, DJ Scratch, it’s extremely difficult to not label the album in the aforementioned fashion.
Raheed is an emcee’s MC. Very thorough on the mic with a passionate delivery and a true respect for his predecessors. Even though the production may not be ground-breaking or anything that you haven’t heard before, Kenny Dope does a magnificent job of re-working and rekindling familiar samples and breaks, adding a new twist that compliments Chappell’s intriguing delivery quite nicely. A true must-have for the 30 and over crowd!
“Still On The Hustle”
“Still On The Hustle” really surprised me…a lot! Being that my first memory of Neek was via the Main Source ’92 classic “Fakin’ The Funk”, I wondered if Neek nearly two decades later could still remain somewhat lyrically relevant. With Large Pro? No worries, but here’s the kicker: nearly everyone who picked up/downloaded this album believes that Large pro is indeed responsible for all the production on the LP, not the case. Large Professor only handles 6 of the album’s 11 cuts, with two contributions each from Marco Polo and Carnage and one mo’ from Lord Finesse.
Even so, “Still On The Hustle” is pure NYC Hip Hop. Lyrically, Neek will probably never drop another album and as displayed with this LP, it’s good to have friends in high places as the production on the LP shines most. Still, at only 11 tracks deep, a quick, efficient and most importantly, very enjoyable listen.
Digi Crates strikes again! All you need to do is enter “tha Connection” in the above right search bar to just see how long Bloggerhouse has been diggin’ the duo of Hus and SmooVth. With “Red Dot Plot” SmooVth has cats labeling the album this year’s “Marceberg”. I gotta’ admit that may be pushin’ the envelope a bit, yet “Red Dot Plot” which boasts production from fellow Digi Crate alumni, is SmooVth’s most potent work to date (the album serves as SmooVth’s 3rd solo release).
SmooVth, who shares the same stomping grounds as the aforementioned Marciano and Prodigy of Mobb Deep, achieves the same grimey, yet gritty feel of “Marceberg” and earlier Mobb Deep entries with this release. A great album for the Winter months that have already approached us so quickly.
Never, never in a million years would I have ever expected an album this POWERFUL from 1/2 of U-N-I, THURZ. No diss intended, but THURZ’ solo debut “LA Riot” is some potent stuff, mind you! A debut that boasts a heavy dose of social commentary and potent production from the likes of Ro. Blvd, DJ Khalil & Aaron Harris, LA Riot rekindles an aggressiveness that will take you back to the days of Ice Cube’s sophomore opus, “Death Certificate”. I placed this album in one of my top 5 “Must Cops” of 2011 and I still can’t imagine how this LP didn’t generate hardly any attention at all!
AmDex and DT aka Clan Destined, compliment one another very well on this outing, flashing moments of sheer brilliance on tracks such as the Illastrate-produced thumper “Livin’ Thru” (on a side note, please stop sleepin’ on Illa’s recently released instrumental LP “Eddie Coleman’s Friday Night Theme Music” in the days ahead..) and the numbing, goose bump-inducing finale “Far Beyond”, which pays homage to the deceased with a strong lyrical performance from one who was gone way to soon, Jax. Also of note, it is equally impressive that the duo also handled the majority of the production for “Self Titled”.
I can’t explain in words just how much I LOVE THIS ALBUM, even 22 tracks deep “Self Titled” never grows tiresome.
Upon first listen, The Doppelgangaz sophomore release, “Lone Sharks” is one of the stronger, more consistent and yet nearly altogether overlooked hip-hop albums of 2011. If I could, I would berate people here for not having listened to this album and giving it the praise it’s due, but I myself did not stumble the duo until nearly two years after their initial decent upon Hip Hop’s underground.
It appears that despite having an early EP, a debut album in 2009 and a beat tape to open up 2011, the duo hasn’t generated an overabundance of hype for themselves. While that may be entirely unsurprising in the fast-paced Internet age we currently live in, it becomes appalling upon hearing Lone Sharks. That’s not to say that this album is something that everyone will love or should be talking about, because it is certainly an album you have to invest your attention into, but The Doppelgangaz themselves and their unique style is exactly the type of thing you expect to develop a strong cult following….eventually.
THIS album surprised the hell outta’ me! M.E.D. has been kinda’ wish-washy with me since the release of “Push Comes To Shove”. However, make no bones about it, labeling your album as “Classic” is quite brave and while the outing does fall short of classic status, “Classic” is undoubtedly, by leaps and bounds, M.E.D.’s finest work to date.
With a talented guest list, to include Talib Kweli, Oh No, Aloe Blacc, Planet Asia and Kurrupt, “Classic” is void of any booty ‘ish. The hands-down winner on this LP though, is the Alchemist-produced “War & Love” which features the aforementioned little brother of Madlib (whom also handles a hefty portion of the LP’s production).
It’s hard to sleep on J-Live, a man who’s responsible for one of the slickest LP’s that the underground has ever witnessed, “The Best Part”. However, I’ve never been to keen on J’s work post-”The Best Part”, yet “Said Person Of That Ability” finds a rejuvenated J-Live killing productions from the likes of Illastrate (peep the album’s highlight, “From Scratch” above), Nicolay, Diamond D, and Floyd The Locsmif. Hard to believe that this is J’s fifth (!) album release already! A great collection of styles and productions that pieces together quite nicely for an extremely enjoyable and quite surprising listen.