Category: hip-hop

New Video: MF Doom and Czarface Team Up on Highly-Anticipated Cartoon and Insane Rhyme-Fueled Collaboration

Daniel Dumile is a British-born, Long Island, NY-based emcee and producer, who has  gone through a number of stage names and personas throughout his lengthy and wildly influential recording career, which began back in 1988 when as Zev Love X, he founded KMD with his younger brother DJ Subroc and Rodan, who was later replaced by Onyx the Birthstone Kid. A&R rep Dante Ross learned of KMD through the members of 3rd Bassand signed the group to Elektra Records. Now, if you were a child of the 80s and a voracious music listener as I was (and still am), you’d remember that KMD’s debut was with a guest spot on 3rd Bass’ “The Gas Face.” Their 1991 full-length Mr. Hood was a minor hit as a result of the success of “Peachfuzz” and “Who Me,” which received regular rotation on Yo! MTV Raps and BET’s Rap City.

Slated for a 1993 release, KMD’s sophomore album Black Bastards was shelved because of its controversial cover art, which featured a cartoon of a stereotypical pickaninny or Sambo character being hanged from the gallows and its lyrical content and themes. Before the album was completed, Dumile’s brother DJ Subroc was struck and killed while attempting to cross the Nassau Expressway. KMD was subsequently dropped from Elektra Records that same week. Understandably, Dumile became a recluse, retreating from hip-hop between 1994 and 1997 before emerging as MF Doom, a masked character he created and patterned after the Marvel Comics super-villain Doctor Doom, as a way to seek revenge “against the industry that so badly deformed him,” he has famously claimed.

Around the same time, Black Bastards had become bootlegged, building both a sense of intrigue and buzz around Dumile. Since then, he has developed a reputation for an imitable flow, full of surrealistic abstractions, centered around comic book violence, an obsession with all things pop culture and wry observations, as well as a highly sought after collaborator and producer, who has worked with Madlib in Madvillain, Danger Mouse in Danger Doom, Ghostface Killah in Doomstarks, Jneiro Jarel in JJ Doom and Bishop Nehru in NehruvianDoom among others.

Speaking of collaborative  projects renowned underground hip hop duo 7L & Esoteric and the Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck are the members of hip-hop supergroup Czarface, a character the trio created that’s also patterned after comic book villains that represented aspects of each indivudla members. Interestingly, the act can trace its origins to when the trio toured together, which lead to “Speaking Real Words” off 7L & Esoteric’s 2001 album, The Soul Purpose and “12th Chamber” off their 2010 album, 1212, and a number of other singles. And since the group’s formation back in 2013, they’ve released three critically applauded albums — their 2013 self-titled debut, 2015’s Every Hero Needs a Villain and 2016’s A Fistful of Peril.

MF Doom and Czarface team up on what may arguably be one of hip-hop’s most anticipated and highly-desired collaborative efforts, Czarface Meets Metal Face, which is slated for release next week. The album’s second and latest single “Bomb Thrown” is a perfect example of what you should expect from the album — the members of Czarface more straightforward and explosive rhyming trading verses with the surrealistic abstractions and wild inner and outer rhyme schemes of one of hip-hop’s technical geniuses over a soulful production featuring a chopped up chorus, twinkling keys, looped Spaghetti Western-like guitars  and tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats. And what makes the collaboration work, is that it’s an effortless meeting of the minds, in which each one challenges and pushes the other in a track full of witty, pop culture references, ridiculous, cartoonish violence, insane word play and rhyme schemes with each artist throwing haymakers at their competition. This is what listening to and watching old masters is like, and all those young cats need to sit back and learn.

Based on a concept by Esoteric and Kendra Morris, and directed by Kendra Morris, the recently released video employs the use of paper collage, classic cel animation and stop-action animation, as two young kids, begin reading a Czarface/Metal Face crossover comic book, and get thrown into the world of the comic book they were reading. Much like the artists behind the song, the video is wildly inventive and incredibly funny.

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Born Teren Delvon Jones, Del the Funky Homosapien is an acclaimed Bay Area-born and -based emcee and producer, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he wrote lyrics for his cousin Ice Cube‘s group Da Lench Mob, which initially included the legendary West Coast emcee, filmmaker, screenwriter and movie star before they broke off into a distinct group of its own.

With the assistance of his cousin Ice Cube, Del released his 1991 solo debut album I Wish My Brother George Was Here, an album that was a commercial successful largely due to the popularity of album single “Mistadobalina.” Del wasn’t pleased with the limited musical range of the album and severed his production-artist relationship with Ice Cube for his sophomore album No Need for Alarm, an album that introduced the Oakland hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics, which featured Souls of Mischief, Casual, Pep Love, Del and producer Domino while bringing the Oakland sound to a larger audience. Interestingly, the album is also considered instrumental for expanding what would become the freestyle-based golden era of hip-hop.

Although Del didn’t produce another solo album for about five years, he collaborated on the Hieroglyphics crew’s 1998 debut 3rd Eye Vision; however, by the time he was about to release his third solo album Future Development, his label Elektra Records terminated his contract. Initially, the album was only available as a cassette through the Hieroglyphics website before being re-releassd through the Hieroglyphics Imperium label in 2002; but before that, he collaborated with Dan the Automator and Kid Koala in hip-hop supergroup Deltron 3030 and their critically applauded, 2000 self-titled debut and along with his Deltron 3030 collaborators on two singles on Gorillaz‘s eponymous, smash hit 2001 self-titled debut — “Clint Eastwood” and “Rock the House.” He followed that up with his fourth solo album Both Sides of the Brain, and Hieroglyphics 2003 sophomore effort Full Circle. 

Since then Del has managed to be incredibly prolific releasing albums both through tradition labels, as free downloads and with pay-as-you-wish efforts with specific incentives for those who pay certain prices for the album, including a chance to collaborate with Del in the studio and so on.

Amp Live is a Texas-born, California-based producer and DJ, who is known as one of half to the hip-hop duo Zion I, and for critically applauded remixes of material by Radiohead, Tokyo Police Club and Jamie Lidell. And as a solo artist, he’s released two albums and an EP — 2010’s Murder at the Discotech, 2014’s Headphone Concerto and 2017’s Atmosphere EP and 2011’s Therapy at 3, a collaborative effort with Eligh.

 

Interestingly, Del and Amp Live will be teaming up on the forthcoming album Gate 13, an album that sonically draws from and mixes hip-hop, funk and electronica while finding two of hip-hop’s most inventive artists collaborating with Goapele, Eligh, Simi, Zyme, Adult Karate, Mr. Micro and James Melo, essentially creating a “portal into something progressive, futuristic, and fun,” as the duo says in press notes. Interestingly, the album finds the renowned emcee evolving his imitable style, as he studied both comedy and battle rap, with Del making a concerted effort towards conciseness. “I told Amp about it, and he kind of showed me what his interpretation of what that would be,” Del says in press notes. “When I heard it, I thought it was tight. I didn’t even know he was going to do it.” Amp Live adds “Del has been talking about doing more straightforward, aggressive writing. Everything that I was messing with kind of had the same theme,” the producer says of the album’s tracks. “Even when I flipped them after, I tried to stay true to the original feeling.”

“Wheel of Fortune,” Gate 13‘s first single begins with a thumping, boom-bap beats and arpeggiated synths and Del’s imitable flow, complete with some of the most ridiculous word play, complex rhyme schemes and insanely funny punch lines you’ll hear in some time, as he throws massive haymakers at any and all who dare to battle him. About halfway through the track Amp Live drops a dub reggae break, which he follows with a manic tempo — and throughout Del effortlessly and dexterously handles it in a free flowing, almost mischievous fashion. Dope emcees being challenged by dope producers is what all hip-hop should aspire to, no matter what the era.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based producer, DJ and remixer Rhythm Scholar, who has developed a reputation for his crowd-pleasing, slickly produced, effortless and imitable mashups and remixes of hip hop, classic soul and pop. The JOVM mainstay recently released a remix of Bill Withers‘ beloved classic “Use Me Up” featuring a backing band,  which features Marcus Horndt contributing soulful blasts of Fender Rhodes, Jason Spillman contributing a 70s soul and disco-inspired bass line, Sami Turune, contributing some bluesy guitar paired with Withers warm vocals and rhythm guitar, and some insane scratching and production from Rhythm Scholar.

In my mind, what makes this remix interesting is that it’s a lovingly anachronistic take on it that manages to walk a difficult tightrope between the 70s and contemporary production while retaining the orignal’s effortless soul and thoughtful, deliberate attention to craft.

 

New Video: Introducing the Badass Ladies of Toronto’s The Sorority

Comprised of Phoenix Pagliacci, Lex Leosis, Haviah Mighty and Keysha Freshh, The Sorority are a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based hip-hop act that can trace their origins to when the quartet first collaborated together at a 2016 International Women’s Day cipher that quickly received attention from the likes of Noisey, The Fader and others. And since then, the act which features four individual artists, who contribute their own unique styles, personalities and energies have focused on empowering, entertaining and educating through the release of several singles and shows alongside The Internet, Jidenna, Miguel, Joey Bada$$ and A-Trak.

The Canadian hip-hop act’s full-length debut, the aptly titled Pledge is slated for an April 13, 2018 and the album’s first single “SRTY,” features each of the act’s four emcees rhyming about unity, body positivity, sensuality and resilience — and of course, being the baddest, best emcee on the face of the earth in a way that reminds me of the old schoolers I grew up with — in particular, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah and others, complete with a self-assured swagger; but paired with a hyper-modern, minimalist and ominous production consisting of skittering snares boom bap drums, wobbling and woozy synths; it’s a slick synthesis of the old school with the new school in a way that’s both radio friendly and unique. 

Directed by Composite Films, the recently released video features the ladies of The Sorority being badass, kidnapping and fucking with four presumed fuckboys, subverting hip-hop tropes in a mischievous and very smart fashion.

New Video: Evidence Teams Up with Atmosphere’s Slug and Catero on a Soulful and Earnest Single Paired with Gorgeous and Surreal Visuals

Born Michael Taylor Perretta, Evidence is a Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer, best known as a member of the renowned hip-hop act Dilated Peoples with whom he has released four full-length albums. As a producer, Perretta has collaborated with the likes of Beastie Boys, Linkin Park, Swollen Members, Defari, Planet Asia and a co-production credit on Kanye West’s Grammy-winning, full-length debut The College Dropout.

The Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer’s 2007 full-length debut, The Weatherman, which was released by ABB Records, the long-time label home of Dilated Peoples featured tracks produced by Perretta, The Alchemist, Sid Roams (the production team of Joey Chavez and Tavish “Bravo” Graham), Jake One, DJ Babu, and DJ Khalil, as well as collaborations with the Dilated Peoples crew. By 2009 Evidence signed with Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hip label Rhymesayers Entertainment, who released his 2011 sophomore effort Cats & Dogs, an album that wound up being among his most commercially successful as it landed at #64 on the Billboard 200.

Evidence’s four full-length album Weather or Not was released earlier this year through Rhymesayers, and the the album is the  first batch of new material since 2014’s The Alchemist-produced Lord Steppington, and as you may remember, the album’s third single “10,000 Hours” found the Los Angeles, CA-based producer and emcee further cementing his reputation as an incredibly dexterous and criminally unheralded emcee, who has ridiculous rhyme schemes — all while discussing ho much time he spent practicing, refining and developing his skills over a swaggering DJ Premier production featuring squiggly synths, boom bap beats, a forceful bass line, samples from Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and GURU that managed to be anamalgamation of strutting West Coast hip-hop and stomping, menacing, old school East Coast hip-hop.

Weather or Not’s latest single “Powder Cocaine” is a collaboration between Evidence and Atmosphere’s Slug that features an atmospheric The Alchemist production that consists of tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, a subtly chopped up choral vocal sample and warm blasts of bluesy guitar paired with a soaring hook sung by Catero that’s the emotional and metaphorical underpinning of the song. In fact, as the story goes, after enlisting Catero to write the song’s hook. the vocalist came back with a verse that ended with “but everything’s fine if I try to remain like powder cocaine . . .”  Understandably, the line stuck with both Rhymesayer labelmates, and it opened the doors for the duo to write rhymes full of diverse metaphors and descriptive symbolism. Yet, despite the song’s title, Evidence has never used the drug. “I’m like the only person in Los Angeles, who didn’t do cocaine, and Alchemist, too,” Evidence says in press notes. “We made a pact, you know, when friends are young and we actually stuck to it. The song is not a pro-cocaine song, but rather just using the saying as an expression of being all good.” 

Directed by Jason Goldwatch, the recently released video for “Powder Cocaine,” is actually influenced by Evidence, a passionate shutterbug — and as a result, the video is full of gorgeous and surreal visuals that employ a photographer’s sense of composition and framing to emphasize very specific things. 

Born Ryan Daniel Montgomery, Royce da 5’9″ is a Detroit, MI-born and-based emcee, best known for his longtime association with Eminem, with whom he’s one half of duo, Bad Meets Evil, a critically applauded solo career, primarily collaborating with Carlos “6 July” Broady and DJ Premier, as well as ghostwriting for the likes of Diddy and Dr. Dre. He’s also a member of Slaughterhouse, an All-Star hip-hop act that also features Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Crooked I, and one half of PRhyme with the legendary DJ Premier.

As the story goes, Royce da 5’9″ signed his first deal with Tommy Boy Records, who offered him $1 million while Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment offered him $250,000 and unlimited beats, a decision that he described as one of his biggest regrets in a 2016 Complex interview. After Tommy Boy Records closed, the Detroit-based emcee signed a deal with Columbia and Game Recordings, with whom he began recording an album then titled Rock City, a title which referred to Detroit being the former (and best known) home of Motown Records. When the album wound up being heavily bootlegged, the Detroit-based emcee left that label for Koch to re-record the album, eventually releasing it 2002 as Rock City (Version 2.0). And although the album didn’t sell well, the DJ Premier-produced single “Boom” helped Royce achieve some underground recognition and lead to the two working more closely with PRhyme.

Their 2014 debut album together featured both artists going out of their comfort zones, and expanding upon their familiar sounds; in fact, Premier enlisted the compositional skills of Adrian Younge, whose work he sampled throughout the album’s production while Royce da 5’9″ traded bars with the likes of MF Doom and Little Brother‘s Phonte on the initial release, and with The RootsBlack Thought, Joey Bada$$ and Logic on the deluxe edition released the following year. PRhyme 2, the duo’s long-awaited sophomore effort is slated for a March 16, 2018 and the album’s latest single “Rock It” features a swaggering production consisting of shimmering synths, twinkling keys, boom bap beats, some of Premier’s classic sampling and scratching which Royce da 5’9″ waxes nostalgic over some of his favorite artists, while reminding listeners that he’s one of contemporary hip-hop’s sadly under-appreciated emcees; but perhaps more important, in an age in which most mainstream artists increasingly sound the same, real hip-hop that I remember  — dope emcees spitting bars over slick and thumping production still exists and is still absolutely necessary.

 

 

 

New Audio: Kool Keith Dan The Automator and DJ Qbert Revive Dr. Octagon for Surreal and Satirical First Single in Over 20 Years

Known as a co-founder of renowned and legendary hip-hop act Ultramagnetic MCs and for a lengthy and uncompromising solo career in which he has taken up a number of aliases and personas, while collaborating with an array of emcees and producers, Kool Keith is arguably one of hip-hop’s most idiosyncratic and eccentric personalities and artists — and throughout his incredibly prolific recording career, he has continually perfected and expanded upon his inimitable flow, full of surreal and fantastical tangents, grimly violent and nightmarish imagery, sexual and pop cultural references while effortlessly and frequently switching perspectives, moods and points of view within the same song.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site, you know that I’ve written quite a bit about Kool Keith and his various solo releases, reissues and collaborations but interestingly, the imitable emcee along with collaborators Dan The Automator and DJ Qbert have teamed to revive his alter ego Dr. Octagon 20+ years after the critically applauded, revolutionary debut effort  Dr. Octagonecologyst. “Octagon Octagon,” the first single from the trio’s long-awaited Dr. Octagonecologyst follow up, Moosebumps: an exploration into modern day horripilation is a bit of a return to form for the trio — but possessing a frenzied urgency that could only come from marathon 24-hour recording sessions at Dan The Automator’s studio.  And while reprising a lecherous and hopelessly incorrigible character with his off-kilter and imitable flow, the new single is arguably one of the smartest and most absurd yet satirical commentaries on capitalism, branding and advertising, as Kool Keith’s Dr. Octagon reveals himself as shamelessly opportunistic, putting his name to tampons, rice and beans, gasoline and anything else he could — even if it was ridiculous, because why not? Sonically, Kool Keith — er Dr. Octagon’s flow is paired with a minimalist production that manages to be both menacing and surreal, emphasizing the character’s surrealistic flow while featuring twinkling keys and DJ Qbert’s incredible scratching.

Recently, the up-and-coming Yonkers, NY-based artist Tony Moxburg  teamed up with renowned Yonkers-born and-based emcee, D-Block Records head Sheek Louch and fellow Yonkers-based vocalist Dyce Payne contributing a soulful hook on a Dayzel The Machine-produced hyper modern and swaggering take on the legendary MC Lyte’s beloved classic “Poor Georgie.” In this song, Georgie is out there hustling hard in a difficult and unforgiving world in which the rich get richer and the poor have less — but underneath the swaggering, there’s an appreciative and uplifting tone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Evidence Takes You on a Gritty Tour of Los Angeles in Visuals for “10,000 Hours”

Born Michael Taylor Perretta, Evidence is a Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer, best known as a member of the renowned hip-hop act Dilated Peoples with whom he has released four full-length albums. As a producer, Perretta has collaborated with the likes of Beastie Boys, Linkin Park, Swollen Members, Defari, Planet Asia and a co-production credit on Kanye West’s Grammy-winning, full-length debut The College Dropout.

The Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer’s 2007 full-length debut, The Weatherman, which was released by ABB Records, the long-time label home of Dilated Peoples featured tracks produced by Perretta, The Alchemist, Sid Roams (the production team of Joey Chavez and Tavish “Bravo” Graham), Jake One, DJ Babu, and DJ Khalil, as well as collaborations with the Dilated Peoples crew. However, by 2009 Evidence signed with Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hip label Rhymesayers Entertainment, who released his 2011 sophomore effort Cats & Dogs, an album that wound up being among his most commercially successful as it landed at #64 on the Billboard 200.

Evidence’s soon-to-be released fourth, full-length album Weather or Not is slated for a January 26, 2018 release through Rhymesayers is the first batch of new material since 2014’s The Alchemist-produced Lord Steppington, and with the release of the album’s third single “10,000 Hours” Evidence further cements his reputation as an incredibly dexterous and criminally unheralded emcee with the rhyme scheme in this particular track being ridiculous — all while discussing about how he spent time developing his own unique flow. With Evidence spitting over a swaggering DJ Premier production featuring squiggly synths, boom bap beats, a forceful bass line, samples from Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and GURU, the track manages to be a amalgamation of strutting West Coast hip-hop and stomping, menacing, old school East Coast hip-hop. But just as important, as I’ve relentlessly reminded readers of this site, real hip-hop, and not that prepackaged bullshit on your multinational conglomerate propaganda and advertising radio, is still out there if you’re willing to look for it.

Filmed and directed by Stephen Vanasco, the recently released video for “10,000 Hours” is a lush and cinematically shot black and white video in a number of gritty and underground Los Angeles sights before meeting with the legendary DJ Preemo.

Throwback: Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis”

As I mentioned earlier, over the years, the holidays have become increasingly difficult for me, with the season harboring many more bad memories than good ones as I got older; however, whenever I think of Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” I think of times that seemed far more easier and brighter, even if they may have been viewed through rose-colored glasses and the hazy nostalgia of adulthood.  But along with that, what I can clearly remember was that as a child, I wanted to be like Run DMC because I thought they were the coolest brothers on the face of the earth; plus, they grew up in my home borough of Queens, which made their achievements seem plausible for a music loving black kid.

For those who celebrate, Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays for everyone else. And may there be peace, brotherhood and sisterhood for all.