Archive for the ‘Album Reviews’ Category

The influence of the Wu Tang Clan on the genre of hip-hop is notorious and even in the modern day climate that is less focused on grimy street raps, there is still plenty of room for younger protégés to shine. We have a noteworthy example of this here with Willie The Kid and Bronze Nazareth linking up on The Living Daylights album. The Wu Tang affiliation is close to home for both artists as Bronze Nazareth has produced multiple songs for the group over the years, while Willie The Kid is cousins with La The Darkman (another Wu affiliate). With this in consideration, it makes sense that these two would have a natural musical chemistry together, and The Living Daylights is a product of that classic Shaolin sound that so many hip-hop heads continue to cherish. While the project may not receive the widespread attention of a Wu Tang Clan release, The Living Daylights excels as a cohesive body of work that sticks to its street essence.

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Once could describe Major Lazer as Diplo’s musical child that features a melting pot of reggae, EDM, and dance-hall themed production. The project has had great success over the years churning out a number of successful singles as well the nicely received album Free The Universe that was released last year. Wasting no time, Diplo is right back at it with another Major Lazer EP titled Apocalypse Soon and it continues its trend of disrupting the norm, yet rising to the occasion as a collection worthy of praise on the mainstream pop charts. With guest vocals from artists such as Pharrell Williams, Sean Paul, and Mr. Fox as well as wild production from Diplo, the EP brings the high level of energy we have grown accustomed to hearing from Major Lazer projects that are made for dance floor raging.  (more…)

The Flatbush Zombies have had enormous success in the New York hip-hop scene within the past few years and their resident producer is an essential reason as to why. Erick The Architect is the mastermind behind almost all of the production on Flatbush Zombie projects and he also brings exceptional skills as an emcee to the table. And before the trio announced their upcoming It’s All A Matter Of Perspective EP with the single “LiT” last week, Erick provided us with an amazing surprise due to his “boredom” in the form of his own mixtape. The 30-minute project is a collection of unreleased demo’s that Erick recorded back in 2012, and the 9 tracks that encompass the mixtape are album-worthy material. This compilation is full of gems that require listening if you consider yourself as a Flatbush Zombie fan.  (more…)

2014 marks the year of 20th anniversaries for a plethora of hip-hop’s greatest albums, as 1994 was a year stacked with legendary releases such as Nas’s Illmatic and OutKast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. One album that may unfortunately get overshadowed in terms of reminiscing is Organized Konfusion’s underground classic Stress: The Extinction Agenda that found both Prince Po and Pharoahe Monch in a raw artistic zone. And while the innovative Pharoahe Monch has become the more recognizable face of the group, that by no means discounts the contributions of Prince Po, and we have been reminded of this with the album Animal Serum. Prince Po has teamed up with critically acclaimed producer Oh No for the collaborative effort that provides a dark, psychedelic trip for listeners who are met with a chaotically, yet well-crafted body of work. (more…)

So many emcees live out their careers with their potential unfulfilled due to never finding the right yin to their yang on the production side of things. This is more so common in today’s hip-hop climate due to the fact that so many producers skip around from one artist to the next in a rush to simply make a beat, receive the paycheck, then move on to the next request. Fortunately, there are some veteran producers out there who are sticking to the traditional format of 1 rapper/1 producer for the entirety of an album. This usually results in the creation of cohesive music, and that is exactly what we have here from this West Coast duo of Exile and Johaz. Exile has made a name for himself over the years due to his exceptional skill of tailor-making projects that bring out the best in the rapper he is working with. This was exemplified in previous albums such as Blu’s Below The Heavens and Fashawn’s Boy Meets World as both projects are considered as standout material from each artist. A similar success story has taken place here as Exile has teamed up with Dirty Science member Johaz for this E&J album, a body of work that may surprise listeners due to its unfiltered honesty and eclectic consistency.  (more…)

TDE has established themselves as a top notch label the past couple of years with the Black Hippy crew of Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock being the key centerpiece. They have become a dominant force in the West Coast rap scene, but that does not mean they are limiting themselves to California in terms of acquiring new talent. Last year the label signed a relatively unknown artist from Chattanooga, Tennessee named Isaiah Rashad. Once Rashad’s well-received single “Shot You Down” garnered more attention, it was immediately clear that TDE was onto something when they made the fantastic choice of signing this young talent. Rashad has officially introduced us into his world with the release of this EP titled Cilvia Demo and the substantial body of work is a high quality project that puts Isaiah in the forefront as one of hip-hop’s greatest up-and-comers. (more…)

Rapper/singer Theophilus London had not released any material for quite some time, but he picked a great time to come back onto the scene with his Lover’s Holiday II EP, which is a sequel to his 2011 project. The 6-song EP is a nicely timed Valentine’s Day soundtrack and features a wide cast of features such as Blood Orange, Leon Ware, and the Force MD’s. London’s voice seems to have some Kid Cudi influence in it, but overall Lovers Holiday II is a distinct body of work that showcases London’s ability to craft a variety of tracks that blend multiple styles of music. The Brooklyn rapper continues to improve and this project should be a solid set up for more of London’s upcoming material in 2014.   (more…)

The electronic rock duo Phantogram have been feeding their fans with material from their latest album Voices the past few months. In the week leading up to the official release of Voices, singer Sarah Barthel and producer Josh Carter have put out the visuals to their featured single “Fall In Love”. The song represents how Phantogram is able to blend a melting pot of genres and effectively create their own unique sound throughout the entire Voices project. Yes ,not only can you now watch the stunning new visuals for “Fall In Love”, but NPR is offering a stream of the whole album before its release date. If you have not yet heard of Phantogram, now would be the time to start paying attention.  (more…)

The Mello Music Group is best described as an indie hip-hop label that features the music of the best talents on the underground scene. “Like Lao Tzu in hip-hop, Mello Music Group provides music for the soul, from the heart of American culture, opening the realm of the intelligent Hip-hop experience through melodic evocations, beats that corroborate the truth, and voices that roar above the rising void and impose order on the terrible & triumphant moments of everyday life. This is the compelling sound of Mello Music Group.” This is how MMG (no not that MMG) categorizes themselves in the world of hip-hop, and these qualities are certainly reflected in their latest compilation projects Mandala Vol. 1, Polysonic Flows and Mandala Vol. 2, Today’s Mathematics. Each collection has a boatload of original material from the likes of artists such as Oddisee, Quelle Chris, and Rapper Big Pooh over fresh, top-tier production from producers Apollo Brown, Gensu Dean, Oddisee (once again), and Audible Doctor.  (more…)

J Cole and his Dreamville crew surprised us last week with this new compilation project titled Revenge Of The Dreamers. Celebrating his 29th birthday along with the release, J Cole also announced that his Dreamville imprint had signed off on a partnership with Interscope Records. The major news should have a huge impact for J Cole and his Dreamville artists Bas, Omen, K-Quick, and Treasure Davis, all of whom are featured on the project. And while Dreamville is still in its infancy as a rising label, this Revenge Of The Dreamers project should open some people’s eyes to the crew and it shows us their promising potential.  (more…)