Usually, the holiday season is a very difficult period for me. Many of the happy memories of Christmas were when I was much younger and those have been marred to some degree by bitterly unpleasant memories as a young man and as an adult. And while things are difficult, I try. Now, as you may recall throughout the years, there have been some semi-regular traditions including DMX’s rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” that he did while being interviewed at Power 105.1 back in 2012 and for years it was arguably one of the most absurd yet most endearing moments in hip-hop history.
Comprised of Jay Sillence (vocals), Max Watt (guitar, vocals), Dani Barge (bass) and Dom Smith (drums), the up-and-coming York, UK-based hardcore metal act SEEP AWAY cite Black Flag, Cancer Bats, Bongripper, Turnstile, God Damn, Soulfly and Marilyn Manson as influences on their sound and approach. And in a relatively short period of time, the York-based quartet have begun to develop a reputation for being one of the region’s hardest working bands — and for a sound that may remind many listeners to Follow the Leader-era Korn and others.
Building on a growing profile, the band’s debut effort, The Blackened Carnival of Societal Ineptitude is slated for an early 2018 release, and the album’s first single is an explosive and feral cover of what may arguably be one of the greatest songs in the history of hip-hop — Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.” And I suspect that it would make ODB very proud while being mosh pit worthy.
Benjamin Laub, best known in hip-hop circles as Grieves is a Chicago, IL-born, Seattle, WA-based emcee, by way of New York, Colorado and San Diego, CA, who with the release of his first four full-length albums — 2007’s independently released album Irreversible, 2010’s Budo-produced 88 Keys & Counting, 2011’s Budo-produced Together/Apart, and 2014’s Winter & the Wolves — has managed to achieve critical and commercial success; in fact, 2011’s Together/Apart debuted at #112 on the Billboard Top 200, and 2014’s Winter & the Wolves debuted at #57 on the Billboard Top 200.
His Chords-produced fifth, full-length album Running Wild was released earlier this year through renowned indie hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment, the label home of JOVM mainstay Atmosphere and others, and if you had been frequenting this site around then, you’d recall that album single “What It Dew” found the Seattle-based emcee focusing on succeeding against all odds, despite haters and naysayers over a swaggering and soulful production consisting of electric guitar, boom bap beats, brief bursts of organ and swirling electronics. But underneath the swaggering and slick production and witty punchlines is a honest devotion to pure hip hop — i.e., dope production and dope emcee paired together.
Running Wild’s latest single “A-Okay” features yet another soulful production consisting of stuttering drum programming, twinkling organ, a sinuous bass line and warm blasts of guitar paired with an infectious hook but at its core is a call to celebrate and live life with urgency and passion as the song finds the renowned Seattle-based emcee essentially saying “life is short, and sometimes we gotta turn this motherfucker out and cherish the small things” because ultimately, life is about the small things: the smile of a potential lover at the club or at the bar, the drinks and bullshitting about music, life and art with friends, listening to your favorite song on your headphones or at your favorite bar, etc. And as a result, the song manages to feel appreciative, as its narrator recognizes how truly blessed they are to be alive and in the moment.
Directed by Ryan “Pants” Gross,” the recently released video for “A-Okay explores a series of carefree and fun situations through the eyes of a stereotypically miserable Debbie Downer type. As the renowned emcee comments, “Life is way too short to be mad at other people’s enjoyment. Go out and live a little, rent a hot tub boat, get your butt touched, whatever…Just smile!”
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of the past five years or so, you’ve come across a handful of posts mentioning or featuring Statik Selektah, a Boston, MA-born, New York-based DJ, producer, radio producer and founder of ShowOff Records, who’s also one-half of hip-hop duo 1982 with frequent collaborator Termanology. And as you may recall, the Boston-born, New York-based producer, born Patrik Baril, much like anyone who’s involved in music, was introduced to music at a very young age; in fact, he can trace the origins of his own musical career to when he began experimenting with his parents’ eight-track tape deck, cassette recorders and turntables. By middle school, Baril had begun DJ’ing school functions, but as the story goes, Baril became truly inspired to be a producer and turntabilist after hearing 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 off into a label, which released Termanology’s Out the Gate and Baril’s 2007 debut Spell My Name Right.
Since the release of his 2007 debut, Statik Selektah has released 7 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, the aptly titled 8 was released yesterday — December 8, 2017, which may be rather auspicious — through his own ShowOff Records, and the album has the renowned producer
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$$, PnB Rock, the late Sean Price and others. Album singles like the Pete Rock-like“No. 8,” a collaboration with Conway, Westside Gunn and frequent collaborator, the aformentioned Termanology and the neo-soul-inspired “Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed,” a collaboration with a backing band consisting of Brady Watt (bass), a member of The Lesson and DJ Premier’s backing band, Cas Weinbren (keys) Utril Rhaburn (horns), Enisa (vocals), G. Eazy and Joey Bada$$ further cemented Baril as one of contemporary hip-hop’s best producers.
The album’s latest single “But You Don’t Hear Me Tho” is collaboration with The Lox and Mtune featuring golden era-inspired production consisting of a looped sample of twinkling keys, blasts of horn and tweeter and woofer rocking, boom bap beats, and the old school-like production is roomy enough for the members of The Lox (Styles P., Jadakiss and Sheek Louch) to trade bars reminiscing about what hip-hop has -meant to them as people and artists, while making pointed commentary on the fickleness of the industry. Along with that, each emcee seems thankful that they’ve managed to survive the trails and tribulations they’ve faced but underneath the surface is a rather profound question of where they’d be without their love affair with hip-hop.
Directed by Najee Evans, the video features the renowned producer with his adorable daughter, as he takes her to his favorite record store to crate dig but perhaps more important, the video is a revelatory flashback on his career, featuring cameos from Joey Bada$$, DJ Premier, Lord Finesse, Buckwild, Westside Gunn, Conway, as well as footage of The Lox.
WARPORN Industries is an art/hip-hop collective comprised of Everlast, Psycho Realm’s Sick Jacken and Rhyme Syndicate’s Divine Styler and the trio’s latest single “A Day In The Life” off their debut mixtape Warporn features the trio rhyming about balancing the difficulties of improving oneself and the conflicts of brotherhood while on the come up. And they do so over an old school/golden age hip-hop-influenced production featuring tweeter and woofer rocking, boom bap beats, a looped horn solo and some explosive scratching. As the trio’s Divine Styler says in press notes . . . “We must go through it, to get it.”
Directed by Chad A. Marshall, the gritty and recently released video focuses on the difficult decisions between loyalty and getting yours, of the struggle between the call of the street and of your art, and so on.
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 place 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. Medina’s latest single, which was released through Granjer Records, “Chasin’ Franklin” features the up-and-coming Bay Area-based emcee collaborating with the renowned and legendary Kool Keith, as the duo trade bars over a 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 copious references to drinking, drug use, womanizing and misbehaving, as well as the prerequisite braggadocio about how dope they are as emcees; but what makes the track wild to me, is that both emcees trade menacing and surrealistic verses, full of left-field, complex inner and outer rhyme schemes, with each emcee weaving their verses within the mix like two wobbling and tumbling drunks.
Directed by Matt Posada of Film Block Productions is a hazily lysergic video, rooted around lines like “Acid trippin,’ fuckin’ in the kitchen,” featuring some bizarre, yet sensual imagery and a guest appearance by Kool Keith’s alter ego, Dr. Octagon.
Comprised of Posdnuos, Dave and Maseo, De La Soul is arguably one of hip-hop’s most beloved and influential acts. thanks in part to their use of incredibly clever and quirky word play, innovative and soulful sampling and hilarious skits; in fact, perhaps unsurprisingly, Mos Def has openly cited them as a major influence on the early part of his career. And although their seminal debut 3 Feet High Rising may be their most commercially successful release – perhaps in part to the success of singles like “Me, Myself, and I,” which employed the use of a sample from Parliament’s “Not Just Knee Deep” and the Native Tongues anthem “Buddy” – they’ve managed to release a number of critically applauded albums including De La Soul Is Dead, Buhloone Mindstate and Stakes Is High among others.
I caught the legendary hip-hop trio at The Meadows Festival earlier this year, and they were among one of the festival’s most memorable and most fun career spanning sets featuring songs off 3 Feet High Rising, De La Soul Is Dead, Buhloone Mindstate and Stakes Is High and their critically applauded . . . And the Anonymous Nobody, which was released last year. Album single “Pain,” a collaboration with Snoop Dogg featured some of the most incredible bars in recent memory over a soulful, Roy Ayers-like production featuring twinkling keys paired with thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats.
Recently the JOVM mainstay artist Rhythm Scholar remixed De La’s “Pain” with his imitable and effortless mashup/remix that retains the song’s woozy, soulful vibe but further emphasizes it with samples from Oliver “Heart Attack,” feat the aforementioned De La Soul,The Commodores “I Like What You Do” and “Brick House” — with Keith Holden (bass), and Mr. Fender Rhodes (Fender Rhodes). And although the Rhythm Scholar remix turns the song into a 70s disco-inspired club banger, complete with explosive horns. Interestingly, the Rhythm Scholar doesn’t include Snoop’s verse — and the remix is so slick that you don’t notice it.
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. 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. Now, as you may recall, the album’s title track “No. 8” found the renowned producer pairing his golden era hip-hop inspired production featuring enormous, tweeter and woofer rocking 808s and a jazzy sample reminiscent of Pete Rock with Conway, Westside Gunn and frequent collaborator, the aformentioned Termanology contributing some fiery and swaggering bars.
“Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed” 8‘s latest single is a warm and neo-soul leaning production featuring a backing band consisting of Brady Watt (bass), a member of The Lesson and DJ Premier’s backing band, contributing a sinuous and strutting bass line, Cas Weinbren (keys) contributing twinkling, arpeggiated keys, Utril Rhaburn (horns), contributing some mournful horns fed through gentle washes of reverb, enormous, twitter and woofer rocking 808s and some incredible scratching from Statik Selektah and a soulfully sung hook from Enisa. And the production is roomy enough for G. Eazy and Joey Bada$$ to trade bars about achieving success beyond their wildest dreams and yet finding that many aspects of their lives have ironically remained the same; they may have a multi-million dollar home but find themselves struggling to pay for it, they’re still scheming for the next opportunity — and while we may still admire them and their incredible talents, what both emcees suggest is that if you didn’t know who they were, they lead fairly average albeit very odd lives. While further cementing Baril as one of contemporary hip-hop’s best producers, 8‘s latest single may arguably be one of his most straightforwardly soulful and contemplative tracks he’s ever released.
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 Milk, Sean 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.
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.