We’ve been waiting for the duo of Koncept & J57 to drop their project for a minute now. Now that their EP “The Fuel” is out the duo has blessed us with more visuals from the project. “Excitement” has Koncept and J57 in a somewhat trippy video watching them celebrate the day, drinking, meeting up with homies and more. The song itself is Koncept’s journey up to this point and the struggle he’s gone through to get to where he is now. Peep and make sure you cop “The Fuel” HERE.
Busta Rhymes has been a bit up and down since his return, but in his latest mixtape “The Abstract Went On Vacation” Busta is true to form. With Q-Tip supposedly “on vacation” Busta loaded the tape with guest features from all around the hip-hop stratosphere. MF DOOM, Chance the Rapper, Mary J Blige, Rick Ross and more make this tape a well-rounded star studded affair. You can stream the entire project HERE and let me know what you think of Busta Rhymes in the comment section below.
Amor Jones stepped out of the shadows late this year with a couple of joints. While we wait on his full-length “Kobe Year” this man decided to drop a solo EP “Dolo” showcasing his growth as an artist. Producing the entire project Jones speaks on relationships, adulthood all over beats that will bang in the whip. Peep the EP below and if you feel what you hear you can download the entire project for FREE.
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The Twisted Kids are made up of hip-hop duo MC Freeman and Pathos (fka 61ack4eart) and while Christmas has come, there are still gifts to be delivered. With this being third installment of their “Twisted Kids Stole Christmas” the two have brought their A-Game. Pathos handled the entirety of the production and the duo’s rhymes are sharp as ever. With guest appearances from yours truly, VLNS and more, the Twisted Kids have created their best work yet. Stream it below and if you like what you hear you can download the project for free.
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This is such a long time coming but Wanja of I Still Love Her has been dropping mixes for the masses for a minute. With this year being a tough emotional year for most Wanja decided to uplift us going into the new year with a perfectly curated playlist of tracks for us to smile to. With tracks by J.Cole, Little Brother, The Roots, Blu and more, this should put us all in a positive mind state for 2016 while recognizing what we’ve been through this year. Enjoy, share and let me know what you think of the mix below.
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“Sour Soul” in case you’ve been sleeping under a rock is the collaborative LP between Toronto-based jazz/hip-hop band BadBadNotGood and Wu-Tang veteran emcee Ghostface Killah. Now before we jump into all of this allow me to provide some background. First we have Ghostface Killah who over the last couple years has really put his foot on the gas pedal starting in 2012 with the Wu-Block album, the year after Ghost dropped the critically acclaimed “12 Reasons To Die” with Adrian Younge and 2014 we got “36 Seasons”. While this is all happening 3 dudes from Toronto are just beginning their venture into being seen by the public eye. With 3 LPs, 2 live albums and credits spanning artists like Odd Future, Wu-Tang Clan, Talib Kweli, Black Milk and more the trio inches closer to world domination. Around June of 2014 we were blessed with a single by Ghostface Killah called “Six Degrees” which featured Danny Brown and was produced by BadBadNotGood. The song was brilliant and everyone came correct, shortly after another BadBadNotGhost (my homey came up with that) dropped another single called “Gunshowers” featuring Elzhi. With this drop came the announcement that the emcee and band would come together to release the album I’m about to review.
BadBadNotGood spoon feeds you from the jump on how this album is going to sound with the intro instrumental track “Mono”. Summoning the sounds from the 60’s and 70’s BadBadNotGood gives Ghostface Killah a beautiful soundscape for the master storyteller to amaze the listener with his energetic wordplay and ability to paint vivid pictures. When the title joint comes in, Ghostface demands the mic immediately and seems to understand the weight that this project will hold for the listener coming off his last TWO releases. Fans of the Wu-Tang member will love hearing Ghostface’s cutthroat braggadocio over the retro sounds that the band has put together here.
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You can hear the homage to Wu all over this release from reference from Ghost to some of the production BBNG provides. On “Mind Playing Tricks On Me” BBNG comes through with what sounds just like some old school production that RZA came up with back in the 36 Chambers days. Ghostface comes with fire as soon as the joint starts claiming he “gave Kruger his clothes” and that he “set Ichabod Crane on his horse ride”. “Six Degrees” one of the first joints that dropped and it’s a perfect example of Ghost playing the role of storyteller. He brings Danny Brown on the track to do the same and the two trade street stories to perfection. The guitar twang from BBNG and the haunting change in the beat keeps the listener on their toes.
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Speaking of guests, Ghost and BBNG keep the number of guests light BUT they bring some heavyweights along for the party. We’ve spoke on Danny Brown, but Elzhi comes through with an aggressive yet clever verse in the middle of “Gunshowers”. DOOM brings his usual mysterious rhymes on the Leland Witty (frequent collaborator of BBNG) assisted “Ray Gun” and MC Tree shows up on “Street Knowledge” for a verse that isn’t bad but his voice seemed to melt into the production making his verse a bit hard to comprehend.
The album rounds out with “Food” where Ghost strays from his usual street stories and braggadocio and trades it in for bars to get the kiddies to think. “Money is the root to all evil, that cash rule; Will have you out there looking like a damn fool” says the Wu native. BadBadNotGood creates my favorite instrumental on this joint which takes more of a chill jazz approach that builds up as it goes in classic BBNG fashion. You can just hear the undying passion in Ghostface’s voice with lines like “Super stars, our ego is so top billin’ it;Follow me son and I’ll show you how I’m killin’ it”.
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“Sour Soul” is a great record where to superpowers in their respective genres came together to create more than just a couple cool joints for us to vibe to. BBNG does what they always do and that’s create instrumentals with improvisation mixed and rooted in jazz and hip-hop. Ghostface doesn’t do what he did on the last two records conceptually but that doesn’t take away at all from the raw lyricism that got Ghost to where he is now. My only real gripe is that it’s pretty short at just over 30mins but this time is not wasted at all. I pray to everything that this isn’t the last collaborative project we hear from these two. Now excuse me I actually have to go and listen to this record for what is now going to be the 14th time. Go cop it and if you aren’t hip to BadBadNotGood go back and listen to their stuff because they’re geniuses.
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Flying Lotus‘ journey through music has been one hell of a roller coaster ride, over the last couple of years he’s worked with Earl Sweatshirt, Blu, Mac Miller and so many other artists. These collabs all happened after his 4th LP release in “Until The Quiet Comes” which dropped in 2012. On top of all of that FlyLo decided to step from behind the boards and start emceeing under the moniker of Captain Murphy. So needless to say Flying Lotus has been through a lot these last couple years and it’s bound to have some type of effect on his music. Enter “You’re Dead”, before its release no one really knew what we were going to get from the producer. I am pleased to inform you all that what we got was more than just a piece of music, but rather an experience.
From the jump with the intro “Theme” Flying Lotus let’s the listener know that this isn’t just an album with the best sounding tracks that seemingly flow well together. Because at times this album is disjointed but still cohesive, allow me to explain. “Theme” begins with a myriad of sounds that made me feel uncomfortable at first but after a couple listens to the song and album it fits perfectly in the theme of the project. To elaborate more “You’re Dead” is a roller coaster ride of sounds. Take the four tracks that come after “Tesla” (the second track), “Cold Dead” comes in with really strong guitar riffs with some jazz infused in the track. The very next track “Fkn Dead” is only a little over 30 seconds long but has such a strong soul sound that it has a distinctly different sounds than the track before it. I won’t cover the Kendrick Lamar assisted “Never Catch Me” because I’d be willing to bet money that you’ve already heard the track already. “Dead Man’s Tetris” continues this range of sounds with more of a trap and video game influence to it, not to mention that Snoop Dogg and Flylo’s alter ego Captain Murphy bring heat just like Kendrick did on the track that came before it. I mentioned all these tracks simply to point out the large range of sounds that Flying Lotus uses, normally this would steer some away, but somehow FlyLo is able to make all these sounds come together making the album more cohesive.
I think my favorite set of songs on this album are “Stirring” “Coronus the Terminator” “Siren Song and “Turtles”. While I won’t get into all four of them, I think they all have their own distinct sound but progress the story that FlyLo is trying to tell perfectly. “Coronus the Terminator” slowly but surely became my favorite track on this album. The soundscape created is so spooky and couple that with singing from both Flying Lotus and Nicole Randa and you have a hauntingly beautiful track that tells the story of what seems to be the Angel of Death. “Turtles” is also a beautiful song that has some unique drums and once the bassline (which isn’t too hard hitting but has more of a chill vibe to it) comes in, the relaxed atmosphere created is a sharp turn from the “in your face” sounds that the album started off with.
Along these same lines, the album really starts to mellow out towards the end. “Eyes Above” is another one of my favorite tracks on this album and has a darker feel to it. It is short but I had this song on repeat for a long time (even now as I’m writing this review). My favorite aspect of the album that Flying Lotus has created is the story. Now it’s not a straightforward story, but I feel the listener is able to create whatever story they want personally. I personally feel Flying Lotus created a character that is going through the process of accepting his/her death. As the album progresses the character goes through everything, dying, denying their death and eventually going on to accept their death and rest in peace once “The Protest” comes on.
I’m going to be straightforward and say that I believe Flying Lotus has crafted the best album of this year. Keep in mind that yes, I’ve heard a lot of hip-hop this year and at first I truly believed no one would surpass the greatness that was Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s “Pinata” LP. However Flying Lotus was able to tell a story through numerous types of sounds and influence of genres. FlyLo was selective on guests and rightfully so because each guest brought their best to the table. I think my only beef with this project is that it’s so short, coming in at just under 40 mins. Granted Flying Lotus gets the job done in this time so I’m probably just salty that there weren’t more songs or that some songs weren’t longer. “You’re Dead” is not just an album of songs, but an experience for the listener to interpret on their own. Flying Lotus may nudge the listener in a certain direction but it’s up to the listener to craft the story and what they want to take away from this masterpiece. Unless you’re just not a Flying Lotus fan at all there’s really no reason not to cop this album because it’s perfect.
Ugly Heroes smashed onto the scene last year with their self-titled debut album. Ugly Heroes is made up of emcees Verbal Kent and Red Pill along with producer Apollo Brown. Their first album stayed true to the Ugly Heroes name in that their rhymes are meant to show us all that we’re heroes though our paths may be ugly. The group’s lyrics were honest, but not boring, they could speak about their personal lives in one song and completely rip a track in the next one. I honestly didn’t expect to hear from the trio so soon but here we are with a self-titled EP filled with some new tracks and a lot of bonus content (which won’t be covered in this review to determine a rating).
I won’t spoil everything for you but I will say that Ugly Heroes truly does pick up right where they left off on their debut LP. The formula is the same, Apollo Brown comes through with a sample filled beat with hard-hitting drums and Kent and Pill wax poetic. “Legit Worthless” has been one of my favorite songs of the year so far and is the joint that kicks off the album. If I remember correctly this beat was on a trailer for the group when they were first introduced to the world. Pill and Kent speak on their journeys to where they are now and how quitting isn’t an option for either of them. The trio truly have come into the light as of late with them touring internationally with the Barrel Brothers, Kent put out a stellar record with Khrysis earlier this year, Apollo Brown is making classic records with everyone under the sun and more. Ugly Heroes aren’t going anywhere and this track is proof.
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“Naysayers and Playmakers” is next and I love the sample that plays through the track and in the hook. Kent and Pill again remind the listener that you have to make your own lane and stick to that with all the doubters and naysayers that will doubt you and wish for your demise. This continues on the next track “Good Things Die”. Now I have to admit I have a bit of beef with this track just because it was on the original LP, however it comes equipped on this project with new verses from both Pill and Kent along with a guest verse from Living Legend Murs. So while the beat is the same, we’re essentially getting a new song that still bangs in the speakers and still brings the raw lyricism that we expect from the duo lyrically.
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There are two tracks left on the EP that I won’t ruin but for $8 you get 5 new tracks along with 4 bonus tracks which includes tracks the group has done for other albums and a remix by Apollo Brown. The group doesn’t really step out of their lane in this (unless you count the Oddisee produced bonus track) but there’s nothing wrong with this. Apollo Brown’s production stays true the brand he’s created, the vinyl crackle, the samples, drums they’re all there. Ugly Heroes has blessed us with a short EP to tide us over until their next project. It really is a direct sequel to their LP and fits nicely with their quickly growing discography. Peep the EP and let me know what you think in the comments below and keep it locked at Dead End Hip Hop for all your hip-hop needs.
Myself along with a lot of other underground hip-hop heads have a love/hate relationship with Blu. Now there is fault both from the fan standpoint and artist standpoint. I don’t have to even mention that most consider “Below the Heavens” to be Blu’s best project. After that though is where fans start to have different opinions on the emcee. With Blu’s last project “York” he was rhyming over way different production and even lyrically seemed to just not be at his best. I think with us getting unmixed and unmastered projects and the left-field hitter that was “York” some people have left the Blu train. However with “Good to Be Home” I can confidently say Blu is back.
Before this record dropped Blu went on record of saying that “Good To Be Home” would be one of the best records in his discography. I took this with a grain of salt at first but let me tell you that Blu has made a hell of a project here. And what better to way to make a comeback then to release a double LP. 20 tracks strong Blu comes through an album that pays homage to this home. For this album Blu enlisted in the help of DJ Bombay (who if I’m correct produced Braille’s “Scatterbrain”) to produce the entire project, the two fit like a glove.
The first joint that really catches your ear is “The Return” and for me this is Blu’s self-anthem. Blu tells the story of how he got his name and reminiscences on his time growing up before the life he has now. One of the complaints I’ve heard in reading reviews for this was that there were too many guest features on this. However the majority of this album has no guest features and the ones that do show up I believe compliment the album well, plus never once did I feel like Blu got outshined by someone.
Speaking of guest features “Whip Creme Pt. 1” is probably one of my favorite songs on the album. The joint features Definite, CO$$, Big Dame and Swheat Pea. This joint also shows the balance that this album has. It harkens to “Below the Heavens” with some personal joints but also some joints that just pay homage to the life that all these artists lived in the West. Bombay comes through with a beat with an addictive sample that had me replaying this joint so many times. Though I must wonder when will there be a “Whip Creme Pt. 2”?
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Bombay lays down 20 great beats on this project, some of the samples I’ve heard before but he makes them his own and they fit with Blu easily. Now if you watched our video review some of the fellas weren’t feeling the production because of the lack of mix. While I can see that view, all of these sound amazing, mixed or not. Whether it was intentional or not remains to be seen but I don’t think it takes away from what this album is.
The album remains consistent throughout even into the second disc, no stone is left unturned, personal thoughts are explored, love and relationships are talking and paying respect to where all these artists have come from. Speaking on relationships “Well Fare” features Thurz and Casey Veggies and they go in on the idea of relationships and how much a struggle they can be. I’m not sure people can make the argument that the Blu used these guests as crutches with tracks like “Rap Dope” “The Return” “He Man” and others.
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I haven’t determined if I consider this album a classic (to be honest this album was in my top 5 for a while), but right now this is my second best release of the year (behind MadGibbs “Pinata”). Blu and Bombay teamed up to create a cohesive album, it can be a bit long-winded with it being 20 tracks long but even if you split the LP and listen to half now and half later you’ll appreciate that Blu and Bombay were able to put together such a great project. If you’ve missed out on Blu’s last couple releases I strongly suggest picking this up because this is truly the best he’s been since “Below the Heavens”. Bombay crafted a beautiful and hard-hitting soundscape for this record and I pray the instrumentals come out soon because I could totally ride to that too. 2014 is shaping to up to be a great year for hip-hop and “Good To Be Home” is one of those reasons.
This EP by J’Von and LAKIM came literally out of nowhere at least on my radar. I’m here chilling waiting for the next Theory Hazit album to drop and LAKIM tweets out this project. I’ve been a fan of LAKIM since he linked up with my homey Jean P. LAKIM specifically said that this is for the fans of his more hip-hop style production since new fans probably got hip to him via his more electronic and house production. This EP was also my introduction to Seattle emcee J’Von. What happens when these two come together on “Left” EP…..let me tell ya it’s amazing.
J’Von has a suitcase full of wordplay and while his style is a bit predictable it’ll still leave your mouth hanging open because his prowess is impressive. The whole thing starts off with “the.shade [gloom-bap]” and LAKIM comes in with some heavenly production that is so crisp and clean that allows J’Von just to wax poetic and give a bit of his personal story over the track. J’Von makes rapping look real easy flowing effortlessly over this beat.
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And this is how the majority of the project goes. Lakim’s production has that vintage-sampled sound, but he’s evolved it. It’s clean and crisp and does something new with the underground sound that I always found myself being drawn to. What adds to the production is the effects that was put over the vocals or just song in general. There’s a bunch of static and distortion all over this thing, but it’s never to where it’s annoying, I felt it was artistic, the effects were placed somewhat strategically. J’Von’s lyricism is always on point, never a dull or wasted moment, he fuses clever wordplay with personal pieces of his life.
And then…..there’s “wind.memory” which right now is one of my favorite songs of the year and will definitely be one of the best songs released this summer. I actually heard this beat a while ago when LAKIM was selling it, however a couple changes were made from then to where you’re listening to it now. LAKIM tones down the drums a bit and J’Von and Dex Amora just go to work. This track is more love-centered and it freaking works wonders from the lyrics, to the production, to the effects over the entire track. Both talk about the battle that love is, everything is covered, the initial attraction, the talking phase, sex and more is discussed between the two and they do it perfectly.
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LAKIM and J’Von come through with one of my favorite projects this year and has me fiending for more from these two. J’Von is the dominant voice on this project with only one guest (who slayed his verse) and LAKIM made production that suits him wonderfully. I don’t know what is coming next for either person, but I really hope we get another project or an LP from these two at some point because this is amazing. If you’re a hip-hop fan to any degree I strongly advise that you cop this FREE project from these two.
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