Archive for September, 2008

Crooked I – The Block Obama

Crooked I

A Milli (Freestyle) Download
Traffickin’ Green Download
Circle Gang (feat. Horse Shoe Gang) Download
from The Block Obama – Mixtape For The Streets (2008, Indie)

Those of us acquainted with the Crooked I, hip hop weekly 52 week record breaking performance are anxiously waiting the next Crooked I full album. We all honestly want to hear what he’s going to say next, what he’s going to do, and how hot is it going to be when he does it. Since the early 90’s he’s been getting our attention with breakneck speedy-off the wall metaphors and his insistence on being what gangster rap should be in reference to being Hip Hop. We b-boys and fans of the lyricism that made hip hop a form of art that (a far cry from the radio related garbage that calls itself Hip Hop in a cruel mockery of the music we love) can truly appreciate what Crooked I is out there doing.

Well he’s back at it again, seven months after his awesome “St Valentines Day Bossacre Mixtape”, he drops “The Block Obama”. This album does what he is most famous for and takes Crooked I and his favorite radio or main rotation beats and puts them together to make something hard hitting and lyrically flowing. Thats not to say all the beats are old recycled beats, though. This album has more than a couple cuts on here that are newly produced tracks. It gets me juiced, really, Crooks is one of the illest out there. This mixtape is a win-win for any of us hip hop fans, its Crooked I, good beats, new production on some tracks and a guest appearance by the Horse Shoe Gang. Crooked I is gangster rap for hip hop fans. When youre from California like me and my boy DJ Audio 1, WE NEED albums and artists like this. Download it! Its time for a change… OBAMA!

I should also mention, this album has nothing to do with his stance on Obama… i kept waiting for it… but all he did was make a couple of jokes. Basically, the title referrs to the statement that he wants to be the Obama of the block, who brings change to the west coast hip hop scene.

Skillz – Million Dollar Backpack / Design of a Decade


Sick Download
So Far, So Good
(feat. Common & Talib Kweli) Download
(For Real) He Don’t Own Me Download
from Million Dollar Backpack (2008, Koch)

Skillz is one of those artists that promotes us underground hip hop fans as much as we promote our favorite artists. If you have felt that there was no need to support this man, then you’re slipping. Skillz ghostwriter album was about one of the best albums the year it was released and fell on a deaf-eared hip hop community struggling with exactly what hip hop was and what was happening to what they had known was hip hop. Those of us who have been following the trail he was blazing were much more comfortable knowing that there was that kind action out there. Skillz action.

On the Okayplayer website (one I do not frequent), Skillz has a whole section of the website to himself where he proclaims on his blog, “Keep it hip hop or keep it the fuck away from me”. This is his prominent statement on exactly what kind of music he’s interested in doing and what kind of image he wants to promote. He continues to promote that statement all through his albums.

He released the design of a decade mixtape, which was an essay into influential hip hop in the era that he, Audio1, myself and many other grown-up hip hop fans came up in. It was a mixtape worth celebrating and some of the aspects of his final release for Million Dollar Backpack were overlaying themes there. If you cant afford to order Million Dollar Backpack, or you cant find it in the store (as i experienced), then go get/download Design of a Decade at the very least.

Now the first thing i noticed about MDB was the intro, sometimes intro’s just blow by me and i didn’t even bother to listen to it. The intro for MDB starts with several people, producers, singers, emcees talking about what they have in their backpacks and then he goes on to spit an almost a capella rap about backpacks and hip hop and how people have gotten rid of them or acted like they never had them when they achieved fame.

Immediately what pops into my mind is me digging around in my backpack at the age of nineteen trying to find my Del tape to put into my walkman with the oversize 30 dollar stereo headphones i had purchased to hear my beats better while i was skateboarding to work. I remember i had comics, drawing pads, pencils / markers, an HTML book, work apron w/ name tag already pinned on it and a hoodie in there. Oh, and of course some good herbals for blazing at the park and a couple of condoms in case i hooked up with some ‘slimmy’ after work. What you had in your backpack was definitive of you, and everyone had something different in their backpack. Skillz states at the end, he keeps his dreams in his.

Skillz covers the different forms of rap, but most of it is the style which he made famous. a very tell-it-like-it-is form of spit that doesnt really play with a lot of stylish speech. He drops bombs and drops them straight on the listener. Its one of the things you can really appreciate when listening to his music with someone else. Punchlines are not lost in the dialogue. This one is actually worth the money.

So Far, So Good (Remix) / Sick

Royce Da 5 9 – Bar Exam 2

Royce Da 5’9

Its The New Download
Weathermen (feat. Sucka Free & Kid Vishis) Download
Royal Flush Freestyle (feat. Canibus & Elzhi) Download
from The Bar Exam 2 (Mixed by DJ Green Lantern) 2008

If you haven’t heard the Bar Exam by DJ Premier and Royce Da 5’9, then you need to take a step back. This is a continuation of the previous exhibition by the duo, but this time its done with DJ Green Lantern. Royce spits the hottest fire and does it with that real skill. The underlying message behind the Bar Exam series of mixtapes is obviously, if you can spit like this, then you’re street legal. Royce, a veteran prosecutor, is now top candidate for supreme court justice.

First, Royce has done nothing on this album except improve. His style is much more solid and he doesn’t sound as much like he was ranting and just playing with styles and phrases. He dropped the fixation on being the “new Guru” and the beats and themes aren’t as redundant and the whole product is, again, very strong. This time he brought Kid Vishis through on more than one track, validating him. Dont look for any depth from Royce, he doesnt have anything to say except, “I rap very very good” in various different metaphors and examples. while redundant, its not so much noticeable because of the tremendous skill and charisma he exhibits.

DJ Green Lantern made a smash with his mixtape with Nas and continued moving with a ridiculously strong momentum. One of the interesting things about a DJ Green Lantern mixtape is that he really sets a theme and depth to his arrangements. It doesn’t feel like a simple mixtape where tracks are hashed together with a lyricist just rapping over beats you’ve already heard. Typically, each one is a well constructed, something-to-entertain, with attention getting skits and interludes added in to humanize each artist. I personally keep a rotation of DJ Greens for when I have guests over and we play on the XBox. This is probably one of his best mixtapes to date. if you’re a Green Lantern fan or a Royce fan, you’ll be satisfied. If youre not a fan yet, you will be. Grab The Mixtape HERE

Black Milk – Music From The Color Purple

Black Milk
presents Music From The Color Purple
Download (via mediafire)

Some new materials from Detroit’s Artist of the Year for 2007… This is a preview of whats in store for the upcoming album, TRONIC, from Black Milk. Check the flavas and well keep you posted when then new ish drops!

Termanology / Bun B – How We Rock

Termanology feat. Bun B – How We Rock

Mekka Don – A Tribute To Bernie & Issac

Mekka Don – Death Is Life

Good looking out to Trav from Wake Up Your Daughters on this video. Its an incredible hiphop tribute to 2 legends who left us way too soon

Verbal Kent – Fist Shaking

Verbal Kent

Game Face Download
Users and Pushers Download
Snakes on A Stage Download
from Fist Shaking (2008, Molemen)
Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at Amazon
Stream from Rhapsody

Chicago MC, Verbal Kent, returns with “Fist Shaking”, his 3rd installment to his concept started in “What Box” and followed up in “Move With The Walls”. This concept consists of sticking to the script of dropping raw underground Hip Hop without the glamour and glitz. Hardcore lyrical wordplay overlaps polished, gritty beats with drums that bang the box. Cover artist Gary G keeps continuity in the artwork by giving visual sense of what the music is speaking. Top notch production is handled by Marco Polo, Oddisee, Kaz 1, Panik, K-Kruz, and a rising talent to watch, Varan. Verbal Kent enlists his rapping peers Rusty Chains, Roadblok, Doomsday, Mood Swangz, Lance Ambu & Altruisms, for tight guest appearances. As a testament to VK’s hustle and grind, Molemen Records will be releasing his current opus, and overseeing the proper channels to get maximum exposure. Verbal Kent has displayed what vision and drive can do for your goals. With him touring the states and Europe to promote this project, “Fist Shaking” is already looking like his biggest success to date. Through the years, first as part of the band Organic Mind Unit and later as a solo MC, Verbal Kent figured out how to give the people what they want. Whether it’s a new album or a live show, loyal fans alongside new inductees will have no choice but to put their hands in the air.