Category: hip-hop

Both as a solo artist, who released four highly acclaimed albums during his life — 2005’s Monkey Barz, 2007’s Jesus Price Supastar, 2012’s Songs in the Key of Price, and as member of Boot Camp Clik and of one half of hip-hop duo, Heltah Skeltah, and as a member of Random Axe with Guilty Simpson and Black MilkSean Price established himself as one of underground hip-hop’s most beloved and renowned emcees.  Since his death in 2015, there has been quite bit of material release posthumously, including Coalmine Records’ Record Store Day, Black Friday release, “Refrigerator P,” a collaborative effort between Philadelphia-based producer Small Professor and Sean Price that features Price’s Heltah Skeltah partner Rock. Of course, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout it’s almost eight year history, you’d know that I prefer my hip hop to be rough, rugged and raw street shit — and this track is arguably one of the most rugged tracks I’ve heard this month, as Price spit bars full of references to the Super Bowl XX Champion Chicago Bears over an enormous and menacing production featuring a looped string sample and tweeter and woofer rocking beats. The hook features Price teaming up with his longtime Heltah Skeltah partner Rock while renowned turntabilist DJ Revolution scratches. Certainly, this track should stay as a reminder of Sean P’s incredible talent and how sorely its missed.

 

 

 

 

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New Video: The Gritty Sounds and Visuals of Frank B’s Collaboration with Heltah Skeltah’s Rock “Brooklyn Vs. All”

Up-and-coming Brooklyn-born emcee Frank B first emerged into the national scene with an appearance on Missy Elliott’s UPN series, The Road to Stardom with Missy Elliott , which resulted with him landing a record deal with Elliott’s imprint Gold Mine Records; however, the Brooklyn-based emcee is now doing things on his own with his own imprint Nobel House — and with his new imprint, the Brooklyn-based emcee hopes to enter 2018 in a big way with the release of his forthcoming album Let Me Be Frank, which will feature guest spots from Pro Era’s Nyck Caution, Onyx’s Sticky Fingaz, Heltah Skeltah and Boot Camp Clik’s Rock and a lengthy list of others. 

Let Me Be Frank’s latest single, the GIT Beats-produced”Brooklyn Vs. All” finds the up-and-coming Brooklyn-born-and-based emcee teaming up with renowned, fellow Brooklynite, Rock. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of its almost eight year history, you’d know that if I usually prefer my hip-hop to be rough, rugged and raw street shit — and “Brooklyn Vs. All” fits that mold, as the GIT Beats production consists of tweeter and woofer rocking beats and ominous instrumentation over which both emcees spit about their hometown with dexterous word play and complex rhyme schemes lovingly and realistically describing the starkness and beauty of their home borough. 

Directed by Mike D. Visuals, the noir-ish visuals manage to emphasize the grittiness and desperation of the song — featuring footage shot in bleak back alleys, basements and industrial areas during dreary Northeastern fall days and nights. But it also nods to the fact that there really ain’t anyplace on Earth like Brooklyn. 

New Video: Statik Selektah Teams Up with Conway Westside Gunn and Termanology on Swaggering and Gritty Track off Producer’s Soon-to-Be Released Album

Born Patrick Baril, Statik Selektah is a Boston, MA-born, New York-based DJ, producer, radio producer and founder of Showoff Records, as well as one-half of hip-hop duo 1982 with frequent collaborator Termanology. Interestingly enough, much like anyone who’s involved in music in some way or another, Baril was introduced to music at a very young age, and he can trace the origins of his own career to when he began experimenting with his parents’ eight-track tape deck, cassette recorders and turntables. Unsurprisingly, Baril began DJ’ing school functions as a middle schooler; but as the story goes, a young Baril was truly inspired to be a producer and turntabilist after hearing the likes of DJ Premier and Funkmaster Flex on Hot 97.

As a high schooler, Baril, named himself DJ Statik — the Selektah came much later, after he had heard a local reggae artist say it — and began doing radio at Phillips Exeter Academy’s radio station, WPEA, and where he also occasionally DJ’ed some of the Afro-Latino Society Parties. He began to DJ clubs and private clubs throughout New England; however, by 2000, Baril had returned to Boston, where he pursued an audio production degree at the New England Institute of Art. Around that time, Baril began releasing a mixtape series titled “Spell My Name Right,” which he then followed several years later by creating ShowOff Marketing, which eventually had Reebok, G-Unit Records, Virgin Records, Capitol Records and Puff Daddy’s Vote or Die Campaign as clients, before spinning into a label, which released Termanology’s Out the Gate and his 2007 debut Spell My Name Right.

Since the release of his 2007 debut, Statik Selektah has released 6 more albums including his 2010 breakthrough 100 Proof: The Hangover, an effort that eventually reached #37 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart, and has produced and collaborated with an incredibly diverse list of artists including Freeway, Strong Arm Steady and others.

Statik Selektah’s eighth full-length album, aptly titled 8 is slated for an auspicious December 8, 2017 release through his own ShowOff Records, and the album finds the renowned producer collaborating with a who’s who’s list of contemporary hip-hop including 2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa, Action Bronson, Wale, G-Eazy, Joey Bada$$, PnB Rock,  the late Sean Price and others. The album’s latest single, album title track “8” finds the producer pairing his golden era production featuring enormous 808s and a bluesy and jazzy sample reminiscent of Pete Rock with Conway, Westside Gunn and frequent collaborator Termanology contributing some fiery and swaggering bars. While Hot 97 may be playing Future and god knows what else, thankfully, there’s real hip-hop like I remember still being made and released.

The recently released video begins with footage of an actual shooting in Buffalo that took place while recording the scene introducing Conway. The video then introduces Westside outside of a cheesesteak place and Termanology on a stoop serving as a reminder that hip-hop is always about the streets. 

 
 

Live Footage: Bilal and The Roots Perform Politically-Charged Single “It Ain’t Fair” on NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Currently comprised of founding members Tariq  “Black Thought” Trotter (vocals), Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (drums), along with Kamal Gray (keys), “Captain” Kirk Douglas (guitar), Damon Bryson, a.k.a. Tuba Gooding, Jr. (sousaphone, tuba), Mark Kelley (bass), James Poyster (keys), Stro Elliot (production, sampling), The Roots can trace their origins back to when its founding duo met while attending The Philadelphia High School of the Creative and Performing Arts. As the story goes, Trotter and Thompson would busk on street corners — with Thompson playing bucket drums and Trotter rhyming over Thompson’s rhythms, and by 1989, the played their first organized gig at their high school’s talent show under the name Radio Activity.

After a series of name changes including Black to the Future and The Square Roots, the duo eventually settled on The Roots, after discovering that a local folk group went by The Square Roots.  As they were building up a local profile, the duo expanded into a full-fledged band with the addition of Josh “The Rubberband” Adams, who later went on to form The Josh Abrams Quartet; MC Malik Abdul “Malik B.” Basit-Smart, Leonard Nelson “Hub” Hubbard (bass); Scott Storch (keys); MC Kenyatta “Kid Crumbs” Warren, who was in the band for the recording sessions for Organix, the band’s full-length debut; and MC Dice Raw, who made cameos on later albums. And although the band has gone through a number of lineup changes since the release of their debut, The Roots throughout the course of their critically applauded, 10 independently released albums, two EPs and two collaborative albums have developed a reputation for a sound that effortlessly meshes live, organic instrumentation featuring a jazz, funk and soul approach with hip-hop, essentially becoming one of the genre’s first true bands. Additionally, throughout their lengthy history together, the members of The Roots have developed a long-held reputation for collaborating with a diverse and expanding list of artists across a wide array of genres and styles, revealing an effortless ability to play anything at any time.

Of course, unless you’ve been living in a remote Tibetan monastery or in a cave, The Roots have been the house band for NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from 2009-2014 and for presently being the house band The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, further expanding their profile into the national and international consciousness. And while being extraordinarily busy, the members of The Roots have been busy working on their 9th Wonder and Salaam Remi-produced 17th full-length album End Game, as well as contributing a politically charged track to the Detroit soundtrack, “It Ain’t Fair,” a collaboration with the renowned soul singer/songwriter Bilal.

Born Bilal Sayeed Oliver, Bilal is a Philadelphia, PA-born, New York-based soul singer/songwriter, best known by the mononym Bilal. Throughout his career, he’s received praise for his wide vocal range, work across multiple genres, his live performances and for collaborating with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Common, Erykah Badu, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Guru, Kimbra, J. Dilla, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding, the aforementioned The Roots and others with his full-length debut 1st Born Second, which featured contributions from Soulquarians and production from Dr. Dre and J. Dilla being a commercial and critical success, peaking at number 31 on the Billboard 200 charts and receiving comparisons to Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Sly & The Family Stone, Prince and Curtis Mayfield.  Although since then, the renowned singer/songwriter has developed an increasing reputation for his work becoming much more avant-garde and genre-defying.

Interestingly enough, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Damon Bryson, a.k.a. Tuba Gooding, Jr. of The Roots and Bilal, along with a horn section went down to NPR Tiny Desk in Washington, DC to perform “It Ain’t Fair,” a deeply reflective song that thematically and lyrically makes a thoughtful nod towards Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?, Syl Johnson’s Is It Because I’m Black? and others, as its creators unflinchingly and fearlessly call out a societal construct that denies a group of people the equality, dignity and decency that they too deserve. The song’s creators manage to empathetically offer a glimpse into the hearts and souls of those who love this country and would like to stand for the flag but simply can’t until the evils of inequality, racism and supremacy no longer exist — and when this great country actually lives up the ideals it claims it stands for. 

As I mentioned on Facebook, I was recently in Philadelphia for business related to my day job, and as I walked from my hotel in Center City through Old City, past The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, I recognized that I was walking on many of the streets that the Framers once walked on, as I’ve done several times before. I could picture ol’ Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Hancock, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and so on, in their powered wigs and wool coats during that hot summer of 1776. And the song managed to remind me of the bitter and uneasy sadness I had begun to feel, remembering that the Framers, who could write about man’s inalienable rights given to him by God, didn’t see those same rights applying to anyone, who remotely looked like I do (or anyone, who wasn’t a man, or a property owner, etc.); that their independence, their revolution was never mine. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the pledge allegiance to the flag just didn’t apply to me.

If I go back just five generations ago, my ancestors on both sides of my family were slaves. Five generations ago wasn’t that long ago in the overall scheme of things — we’re talking about the parents of my great-grandparents. And on the streets of the City of Independence, I thought of the unfathomable horror and suffering they went through to justify someone else’s desire to be superior — and naturally, the song reminds me quite a bit of a lifelong bitter pill that’s so very difficult to swallow. 

Jamel Ireif (born Elgin Turner) is a East New York, Brooklyn-born emcee, best known to hip-hop heads and Wu-Tang Clan fans as Masta Killa. And although he was the last member to join the original lineup and was initially considered as one of the lesser-known members of the Wu — he was only featured on one track of their seminal debut effort, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) — over the years, he has developed a reputation as being one of the more prolific members of the group, contributing quite a bit on Clan group albums and solo projects since the mid 1990s.  Interestingly enough, Masta Killa is also the last original member to go solo but he’s managed to release three critically applauded albums — 2004’s No Said Date, 2006’s Made in Brooklyn and 2012’s Selling My Soul.

Masta Killa’s highly-anticipated fourth full-length album Loyalty Is Royalty is set to drop tomorrow, and the album finds the acclaimed emcee and Wu-Tang member teaming up with an All-Star squad of dos emcees and producers — the album’s first single  “Therapy” featured guest spots from Method Man and Redman. The album’s second single “O.G.’s Told Me” featured guest spots from Ram Squad’s MC Boy Backs and Harlem-based Wu-Tang associate Moe Roc on a track that featured the trio showing love to the older heads, who took them under their wings and mentored them with a nostalgia-tinged Dame Grease production featuring a looped sample of staccato key bursts paired with tweeter and woofer rocking beats. The track is a certified banger, but with a truly adult perspective, as it suggests an obvious truth that many of us don’t want to face — time is rushing before us, and suddenly you’ll find yourself being one of those old heads, taking some young, knuckleheaded cat under your wing.

Loyalty is Royalty‘s third and latest single “Down With Me” finds Masta Killa teaming up with the late Sean Price to spit insanely dope bars over a 9th Wonder production featuring twinkling keys, a strutting and swaggering bass line and tweeter and woofer rocking beats. It’s hip-hop how I love it — rugged and raw, with dope emcees spitting bars over enormous boom-bap like beats.

 

 

Perhaps best known as one-half of Heltah Skeltah with the late Sean Price and a member of the  Boot Camp ClikRockRock released his long-awaited solo debut last week Rockness AP, and from album single “Fax Machine.” a street banger which had the Brownsville native collaborate with M.O.P., Rock is set to step out on his own, as an emcee you need to pay attention to — if you like your hip hop, rough, rugged and raw. Unsurprisingly, album single “Wishin'” finds the Brownsville native collaborating with D12‘s Kuniva on a street banger in which the two emcees spit braggadocio-filled rhymes over a menacing production featuring a looped twinkling key sample, warm blasts of bluesy, psychedelic  guitar and tweeter and woofer rocking beats. Let this track be a reminder that you can still find real, rugged street shit — even if your multinational radio conglomerate won’t play it.

 

New Video: DJ Manipulator and Louie Gonz Return with Gorgeous and Meditative Visuals for Album Single “Forward”

Over the course of the past summer, you may have come across a couple of posts featuring the Massachusetts-based hip-hop duo DJ Manipulator and Louie Gonz, and as you may recall the duo have collaborated together in a number of ways through the years; however, 2014’s Private Stock was the duo’s debut as a cohesive, collaborative unit. 

The duo’s sophomore effort together, The Loops was released earlier this year, and the album was intended to be a bold reintroduction to the duo, whose sound draws from soulful, golden era hip-hop — all while avoiding mimicry. Interestingly, The Loops’ latest single “Forward” finds Louie Gonz, putting aside the braggadocio and rhyming with a sober and sincere thoughtfulness on the struggles, demons and difficulties he’s faced both as a person and artist, including haters, naysayers and critics, the deaths of dear loved ones and friends, alcohol, depression, the possibility of an empty life without music and even Satan — but throughout it all, the message is that Gonz and Manipulator have always focused on their dream of creating music, which has kept them moving forward. Gonz’s lyrics are paired with a soulful and meditative DJ Manipulator production that subtly nods at Pete Rock and CL Smooth.

Shot in a cinematic black and white and co-directed by DJ Manipulator and Louie Gonz, the visuals follow nearly every element of Gonz’s lyrics, as it follows Gonz through daily life in his hometown, spending time with his beloved family and loved ones, struggling with alcohol (with the bottle of rum he can’t seem to put down); in fact, the video reveals a humility and honesty that can sometimes be all too rare in hip hop, before closing with a dedication to Gonz’s late father, Luis A. Gonzalez, Sr. 

Jesse Medina is an up-and-coming San Jose, CA-born, Bay Area-based emcee whose life experience has helped influence him and his sound. Growing up, he moved from plan to place and was raised by various family members in different socioeconomic situations and different environments, frequently hanging out with skaters, stoners, hippies, punk rockers and others, and as a result he has an incredibly unique style. To celebrate his upcoming collaboration with Granjer Records, Medina released a new single, “Chasin’ Franklin,” featuring a guest spot from the renowned Kool Keith — and the track features the emcees rhyming over slurring and sloshing Mr. Aeks production comprised of layers of bleating horns, sputtering boom bap beats.

Unsurprisingly, the drunkenly slurring track is specifically meant to be a celebration of excess and hedonism as both emcees make references to drug use, drinking, womanizing and the like, while also talking about how dope they are as emcees. Naturally, Kool Keith’s verse will further cement the legend’s reputation for crafting uncannily surreal, out of left field verses with complex inner and outer rhyme schemes, while Medina’s fiery verses manage to weave in and out of the mix like a wobbling drunk. But underneath that, the song also serves as a reminder of several different yet necessary things — namely that there are a number of artists and producers, who are actively challenging and pushing the boundaries of what hip hop should sound like, and perhaps more important that dope emcees can spit bars over anything and it’ll be pretty fucking amazing.

 

Maybe it has to do with coming off age in the 90s but I prefer my hip-hop rugged as hell, so when I saw an email that about Heltah Skeltah‘s and Boot Camp Clik‘s Rock teaming up with M.O.P., my first thought was “I need to check that out — immediately.” Interestingly, the three Brownsville natives have collaborated together in varying capacities throughout the years, and “Fax Machine” features the three imitable emcees spitting fire over a menacing and hard hitting Ford Tuff and Pascal Zumaque production that features enormous, tweeter and woofer rocking beats — the sort that you can hear rattling from about 3/4s of a block away.  And while Rock is preparing his long-awaited full-length debut Rockness A.P., which is slated for release on Friday, he manages to pay homage to his late Heltah Skeltah partner Sean Price — while making a braggadocio-filled Transformers reference to how he and M.O.P. are like “the cannon on Megatron’s arm/And that ain’t gon’ change ’cause MegaSean gone,” that should remind the listener and any other emcee out there, that although Sean Price is gone, Rock is ready to fuck shit up in his partner’s honor.