Although producer Hit-Boy and rapper Nipsey Hussle represent two different era’s, but they are both a product of West Coast hip-hop. With the sudden resurgence of Nipsey and Hit-Boy being a rapper/producer extraordinaire who has achieved a great amount of success early in his career, it is only right that the two came together for a collaboration. We weren’t sure how we felt about “Alert” when the song first dropped (mainly due to the bad sound quality rip), but after some time with the record it has certainly grown on us. I mean when Hit-Boy’s first lines are “You aint felt this shit since The Chronic”, that alone is an attention grabber as the HS87 boss raps effortlessly over his bumping production. Nipsey Hussle comes through with a solid feature verse and with that “Alert” becomes a true Cali banger. The music video for “Alert” was recently released and it features these two West Coast artists in their element alongside some fine company/cars. The celebratory surroundings of the visuals reflect the up-start style of “Alert” and we still can’t get this catchy beat out of our heads.

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The Underachievers quickly became one of our favorite rap duos’ last year after releasing two great mixtapes in Indigoism and Lords Of Flatbush. It is not fair to stick them in the “conscious rap” box, but AK and Issa Gold have a knack for effectively spreading third-eye fueled knowledge within their rhymes. However, nothing about their style is corny or preachy, making The Underachievers a group worthy of much acclaim and deserving of attention in the NY rap scene as well as around the world. The duo have been prepping the release of their debut album slated to be released this year (titled The Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium) and we now have the first single from the project. “Incandescent” is more reminiscent of The Underachievers’ material on Lords Of Flatbush since it has a more hard-hitting, aggressive style. Both AK and Issa Gold sound fierce over the production provided by Ryan Hemsworth, who usually creates “cloud rap” beats yet successfully ventures outside of his comfort zone on this track. It will be interesting to see how The Underachievers approach this album and we hope the duos’ thought-provoking lyrics continue to be utilized with menacing, psychedelic production.

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It is often the case that female emcees get easily overshadowed, especially in a age where artists like Lauryn Hill, Eve, and Missy Elliott are way past their prime. However, there are plenty of XX chromosome rappers still releasing quality music and Nitty Scott, MC is one of them. The rising Brooklyn emcee shows off her lyrical prowess on her latest single titled “Apex” and she is appropriately joined by TDE member Ab-Soul on the track. Both artists provide mind-bending verses over the addicting production courtesy of Yuri Beats. It is hard to match Ab-Soul when it comes to advanced wordplay, but Nitty Scott, MC rhymes alongside Soulo with confidence and she does not let herself become an afterthought on her own song. The lyrics are given the proper platform to shine and then the beat behind the chorus incorporates strong synths/strings as “Apex” develops its full makeup. “Apex” will appear on Nitty Scott, MC’s upcoming project called Art Of Chill and this track is definitely a strong first offering.

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We are big fans of Jhene Aiko here at Hip To The Game, so it has been a duty of ours to keep tabs on the LA singer with her debut album Souled Out coming out sooner than later. Well last week was Jhene’s birthday, and to celebrate it she provided us with a gift of her own by releasing this track titled “My Afternoon Dream”. The song is produced by Key Wane and unlike most of his work, this song creates a laid back soundscape for Aiko to flex her softly sung vocals. There is no news about whether or not this song will end up on an official project, so for a potential teaser track this is a strong effort from the always hypnotic songstress. Featuring her well-executed melodies over the meditative backdrop courtesy of Key Wane, “My Afternoon Dream” will make every diehard Jhene Aiko feel like it is their own birthday.

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One of the more promising hip-hop artists out there in our eyes is TDE’s Isaiah Rashad. His Cilvia Demo EP released earlier this year has been a standout project so far in 2014, and Rashad continues to promote the stellar body of work with a music video for “Heavenly Father”. The track is one of the more somber, personal records off the project and the visuals set in a wintry scene are reflective of that. The video features the Chattanooga rapper walking through the snow filled streets as he searches for answers to his troubles and problems. “Heavenly Father” is a song many people can relate to and the track is enhanced by the video since it stays true to the themes of Rashad’s heavy lyrics. So while TDE stars Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q continue patrol the spotlight for TDE, Isaiah Rashad is an emcee who is building his own resume early in his career. It may be a short one, but so far we’re impressed with his output.

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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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We have been highly anticipating the collaborative effort between Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs and producer extraordinaire Madlib for quite some time. Well Pinata has officially arrived and it is one of the most impressive albums released in 2014 so far. The project is best when digested as a full body of work, but there is no denying that “Real” is one of the standout tracks on the LP. Most rap “beefs” nowadays tend to be media manufactured promotion stunts, but it is obvious that there is nothing fake about the falling out between Freddie Gibbs and former label mate Jeezy. “Real” is a true diss record in which Gibbs gets into the crux of what went wrong in his experience under CTG label head, and this is about as vicious as it gets.

With the ingenious Madlib behind the boards providing us with a well-placed beat switch, “Real” is a well-crafted record that effectively serves its purpose of getting at Jeezy. But the best part about the song is that it stays true to the themes present throughout the rest of Pinata as Gibbs flows effortlessly over a beat that most rappers would struggle to keep up with. We will save the rest of our reactions for our Pinata album review, but Freddie Gibbs keeps it 100% authentic on “Real” and it should be commended for its raw maliciousness. Read the rest of this entry »

Blu is one of our favorite rappers from the West Coast and although some of his projects may not be recorded in the best sound quality, the quality of the music is undeniable. We received some great news from the California rapper recently as Blu announced that he has a new album titled Good To Be Home in the works. The lead single from the project is fittingly titled “The West” and it is a great first offering from Blu as he lyrically rips apart the hard hitting production. Apparently the entire Good To Be Home album will be produced by a beatmaker named Bombay and if he has more heat similar to “The West” in store for us, this project will be a special one.

When talking about the album, Blu was quoted as saying it will be his “most defining record ever”. That is a big statement when we consider Blu already has an underground classic under his belt in with the Exile produced Below The Heavens, and we all know that artists almost always label their latest work as their best. But “The West” is a great sign of things to come as we await Good To Be Home, which is reported to be Blu’s ode to his hometown city of Los Angeles. The album is set to be released on May 20th and we will be on the lookout for more news regarding the project.  Read the rest of this entry »

Meek Mill is officially in album mode this year as he recently announced that the title of the project will be Dreams Worth More Than Money. As he begins to roll out promo for the project, Meek’s first move was to put out a freestyle alongside his revelation of the album title. The freestyle features Meek rapping viciously over A$AP Rocky’s “Ghetto Symphony” beat and his verses go hard as expected. While Meek did not outdo fellow MMG partner Gunplay when it comes to rapping over this instrumental (Gunplay featured on the original), we are definitely excited to see what the Philly emcee has stored for us in the coming months. And with a new single featuring Ty Dolla $ign and DJ Mustard already being previewed, it looks like Meek knows what he is doing.  Read the rest of this entry »

After a flurry of Instagram pictures and a live preview at a show in NYC, we now have the official collaboration between electronic producer Skrillex and an emcee on the rise in Chance The Rapper. The “Coast Is Clear” is on Skrillex’s latest album Recess which was just released this past week, and it proves to be a standout track on the project. Chance The Rapper is able to flow impressively over the jazz-inspired production provided by Skrillex, and the respective style of each artist is represented properly. The track might be a little out of left field and off the wall, but what else would you expect from these two?

“Coast Is Clear” is an upbeat record that features Chance The Rapper utilizing his ability to create catchy melodies, and his fast flow raps are up to par per usual. The collaboration proves to be an organic one as Skrillex caters to Chance’s cadences with his solid work behind the boards. While the instrumentation is certainly multi-layered, it is not as chaotic as usual when compared to standard Skrillex beats. And within the overall scope of the Recess album, “Coast Is Clear” fits in nicely and is no doubt a highlight song.  Read the rest of this entry »