Found On: “The Element Of Surprise” (Ill Adrenaline Records)
After dropping another slept-on LP earlier in March, 2011 with Beneficence’s “Sidewalk Science” (which contained 6 productions from the likes of the legendary Diamond D), Ill Adrenaline Records just recently unveiled what I consider to be one of the year’s best LPs, in the form of “The Element Of Surprise”, which finds production from Confidence, who hails from Philly and the fluid lyrical techniques of Brooklyn representative, Rashad. Crafted in the form of early classics from Preem/Guru & Pete/CL, Rashad and Confidence stick to the one emcee/one DJ format as it works wonders on “The City” and the remainder of the LP. Apparently, not to many headz are sleepin’ on “The Element Of Surprise” as it finds itself sitting atop UGHH.com’s “Best Sellers” for December.
Found On “Nineteen Ninety More” (No Sleep Recordings)
As if “Nineteen Ninety Now” (released in Oct., 2010) wasn’t enough, almost a year after it’s release, No Sleep Recordings dropped a re-vamped version, to include a few unreleased joints and a handful of “vinyl only cuts”. Among the “unreleased material, some of which featured the likes of Kwest Tha Mad Ladd (how’d they relocate him?), Outerspace and Lord Digga, is the thumping “Rapid Fire”, which features Golden Era favorites, the Cella Dwellas. It’s amazing to me that Celph and crew could dust of aged production from Buckwild and make it come off just as fresh in the present day as it did in ’96.
Found On: “Greneberg” (Decon Records)
A self produced cut from “Greneberg”, Roc Marciano’s “Momma Told Me” is just pure pimp ‘ish! I wish “Greneberg” would have evolved into a full-blown LP! Hovering around just 25 minutes in length, “Greneberg” is waaaay too short, especially when you consider the respective talents of the contributing parties. While Alchemist won’t offer up anything to write home about lyrically, dude more than holds his own on the M-I-C alongside one of Hip Hop’s most overlooked “dual threats”, Oh No and a man who has seemingly obtained more of a cult following than any other underground emcee in the game over the last few years, Roc Marc.
Found On: “S.P.T.A.”: Said Person Of That Ability (Triple Threat Productions)
As I mentioned earlier this week, J-Live’s “S.P.T.A.” was one of the year’s most productive ,sonically and lyrically sound LPs of the year. While Hip Hop has a ton of “double threats”, J-Live is one of the few “triple threats”, serving as not only an emcee but a very efficient producer and DJ. ”From Scratch” is undoubtedly the album’s crowning moment as one of the more underrated producers in the game, Illustrate wrecks havoc with a track that could easily be an easy selection for the breakers and true B-Boys.
Found On: Slaine’s “State Of Grace” Mixtape
Dropped as a free download to promote Slaine’s “A World With No Skies 2.0″, it’s arguable that the Statik Selektah solely produced “State Of Grace” is the better piece of work. I know one thing, “Offensive Lines” is by far my favorite Statik beat of ’11. Talk about three cats that sound dope on record? Ill Bill, Action Bronson and Slaine absolutely murder “Offensive Lines” with dope wordplay. Oh, and that hook? Or lack thereof, is such a smooth transition from a hard drum kick.
Found On: “Night Shift” (Redefinition Records)
Basically, crafted as an ode to his mentor’s workings, Rob-O (who served as a member of I-N-I along with the younger brother of Pete Rock, Grap Luva), linked up with super producer K-Def to revisit “The Main Ingredient” classic, “Escape” from 1994. Oddly enough, on “Night Shift” K-Def also puts a new spin on De La Soul’s “Stakes Is High” with, “High Stakes” and yet another golden era classic from Pete & CL with “For Def’s Sake” (from “For Pete’s Sake”, found on the “Mecca & The Soul Brother LP”). Also of note, the aforementioned Grap Luva also dropped the “Neva Done” EP (also on Redefinition Records), another one of the year’s top instrumental projects, around the same time as the release of “Night Shift”, proving a strong 4th quarter showing for Redefinition.
Found On: Self-Released
Ypsilanti representative, 14 KT who won the coveted “Red Bull Big Tune” Champion last year, was offered the opportunity to collaborate with the artist of his choice as a result of capturing the crown. KT, surprisingly enough, elected to pair with Bun B to record the soulful “The Life”. Although it may look somewhat odd on paper, what you have with “The Life” is some astounding production that meshes perfectly with Bun’s deep tone and delivery to display a soulful and thoughtful side from one of H-Town’s finest. Although “The Life” didn’t quit grab me a first, it’s one of those tracks that captivates and reels you in with each passing listen.
Found On: “Style Be The King” EP (Free Download)
Even though the collaborative LP, “Bat Meets Blaine” dropped just shortly after the free release of the “Style Be The King” EP, one of the dopest producers, whom unfairly is overlooked more often than not, Batsauce and one of the most stylistic emcees in the game, Qwazaar (Typical Cats, Outerlimitz, Dirty Digital) also laced the public with an EP that I FORGOT to include on my best releases of the year list back in September *slaps forehead*. The “Style Be The King” EP was/is pure heat. Reeking of originality, this EP not only set the tone for the LP (which, I still haven’t heard yet!) but also gained a few “eyebrow raising” reviews in the process.
Found On: “Self Titled” (Domination Records)
What a great track to serve as a closer to an even greater album! Even though Clan Destined’s “Self Titled” will be unfairly overlooked this year, partly attributed to it’s late January release (when you listen to a TON of albums, you already know how that goes..the same case can also be made for IMAKEMADBEATS self-titled debut as well). Produced by 1/2 of Clan Destined, AmDex, “Far Beyond” is an emotional, profound production that is also blessed by one of the last lyrical appearances from the deceased ATL-legend, Jax from Binkis Recs, who sadly collapsed while performing on stage from cardiac arrest in 2008….