All posts in January 2015

Viper is Holding Down the Hood (Exclusive Interview)

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The Hip hop community gathered in intrigue when we collectively caught wind of Viper the Rapper mid-way through 2013. Here was this 30+ year old rapper who was rhyming about smoking crack, making mad rap money, and dunking on fools with two hands. With this along with a sound that was purely stream of consciousness and a Lil B air about his style, people naturally began to take note. Viper recently came back into the rap game zeitgeist as Hip hop heads realized that his almost constant dip of content had amassed to 333 albums in 2014 alone. People may look down of Viper, using labels like “outsider Hip hop” and “struggle Rap” to describe his music, but the dude is an honest and authentic artist. Viper the Rapper is more than You’ll Cowards Don’t Even Smoke Crack, as genius as it may be. Lee Carter is a CEO, a pianist, and an artist who means only to reintroduce the prevalence of the true hood style of 90’s Hip hop back into today’s Versace adorned Rap game. I reached out to Viper and he was kind enough to answer some of my questions. Onto the interview.

Eargrub: How are you feeling about your newly found notoriety?

Viper: I’m really enthusiastic about it. I’m glad that the #Viper movement is picking up. I want to let people know what the movement is all about and what my swag is all about.

Eargrub: And how would you describe the movement?

Viper: Basically I’m trying to bring back the grit of rap. The take-your-shirt-off-thugged-out underground swag that has gone away as of recent years because of the whole commercial movement that has come along with some of the younger artists. Don’t get me wrong, I like them, it’s just that element of the rap game is kind of diluted. I want to bring that element back.

Eargrub: So, it was 333 albums in 2014?

Viper: 333, yeah. I’ve got five online distributers, so I’ve got to make a lot of product because I have to keep them happy. This new album that I’m working on is called Tha Jamminest Album U Eva Heard, and that’s not going through any distribution. I’m going to release it out of my own record label, which is Rhyme Tyme Records. Basically, the reason why I did so many albums last year was because of the five distributers and I had to keep them all happy. But, at the same time, after this album is finished, I may end up doing more albums this year than last year. I have a lot of new product I’ve recorded over the holidays, so an album will be getting out to the public real soon. I want everyone to know that every one of those albums is authentic. If you download or upload any one of them, you should know that it’s an authentic album and you’re going to love it.

Eargrub: So where does a work ethic like that come from? Is it from the pressure of having five distributers?

Viper: Well, what’s crazy about it is that they don’t really stress me about it. They take what I give them. The key is that right now my main market is the internet. I haven’t tapped into the radio market just yet – I’m working on that. I’m hoping I can get some radio play with this new album I’m about to drop and with the singles off of that. But, until I do, I’m really trying to overload the internet market as much as I can. It’s like, the more product I put out, the deeper I can reach, you know? So that’s been the goal. I’ve got some good album cover artists on my team that’s been helping me out. They help give variety to the messages I’m putting out on each album. That’s the key man, that’s the key. Once I do, you know, start getting some radio play, I’m not sure if I’m going to cut down on the volume of albums. I do know there will be more people knowing about me because they’ll be able to hear me, you know, on the radio. That’s one of the goals with this new project that I’ve got going on right now. Also, I’ve got a duel album I’m working on with a gentleman called Cali Cash Flow out of New York. He’s called Cali Cash Flow because he’s making his bread from the west coast to the east coast. He’s a native New York cat but he goes by Cali Cash Flow. So we’ve got the double album coming out; that’ll be multiple songs with him and I together. But it’s a double album, so one of them is going to be regular and the other will be chopped and screwed. We getting it on DatPiff, we getting it on Monster Mixtapes, we getting it on Live Mixtapes, we gon’ get it on WorldstarHipHop. We’re going to shoot videos for four of the songs, so we’re seeing if we can get some video play through some of the television rap syndications: Fuse TV and MTV Jams just to name a couple. So those are my two projects that I got going right now.

Eargrub: So, with that volume of work, could you describe your creative process to me?

Viper: You know man, I’m very fortunate that I learned a lot of the music business when I was relatively young. Basically, I already had the music aspect as far as the ability to play the music and that type of thing when I was really young. I was able to put it together with the new technologies that are available to artists now. So, now, I’m making 100% of my music. All of the beats I make myself, and I use different formats like Trap, R&B swagged Rap beats. You know, I make all types of genres in the concentration of Rap. I’m using Fruityloops, Motif and Roland keyboards, so I’ve got a bunch of equipment at my disposal to make this product. This new album I’m working on, Tha Jamminest Album U Eva Heard? I made every beat on that. Lots of guys are saying that they produced when they didn’t actually make the track. They bought the track from somebody and stamped their names on it. I’ve never done that. If you hear a track that’s produced by Viper, I actually made that beat. I made that track on a keyboard or a computer program. This album is going to say “Produced by Viper Made The Beat” to let people know that Viper made the beats, all 15 tracks. Really, I’ll just get an idea for a song, I’ll take that idea and make the track. Then, once I make the track, I’ll listen to the beat while I’m driving and I’ll make the hook right there. I have the concept in mind, so I make the track based on that concept. So if it’s going to be a shoot-em’-out kind of track, I may give it an R&B swag, kind of slow it down and then write that hook while I’m driving around just listening. Once I’ve got the hook down, then come the lyrics. I use all types of lyrics – when I was in the pentatentary I wrote all types of music. A bunch of lyrics for literally about 500 songs. So, I’ll dip into that library, I’ll write new stuff. Once that’s done I’ll put it all together with what matches the hook and then you’ve got a rack of ribs out the oven.

Eargrub: Give me some words you’d describe your music with.

Viper: So, I will use other people’s beats maybe 1 or 2% of the time, you know, out of 100, but for the majority I just want people to see my full creative potential. I want them to see that everything that went into a song is totally Viper. That way they will understand that the whole concept came from my life and my story. I want them to see me as a full artist and critique me on the different aspects that I’m bringing to the table on a track.

Eargrub: To go off of your process, do you draw any inspiration from specific artists?

Viper: There’s so many artists out there that if I start calling out names I’m sure I’ll forget somebody. But the list kind of just goes on, man. I dip into a little bit of everything – even the new stuff. That stuff is what’s musically revelant to today. And even though it may not fit with my swag I still take some elements from it to give the fans and the market what they want to hear. And that’s a good way to connect with the people that you might not have nessasarily connected with. I’ll put it this way: there’s probably isn’t an artist you could name that I’d say I don’t like.

Eargrub: So, is staying relevant important to you? 

Viper: It’s very important man. I was talking to a guy today about the different issues going on in the US and it’s crazy because my fan base is worldwide, and they’re not really seeing some of the things in their country that we’re seeing in ours. So, it’s a situation where when I speak on a subject on a large scale, I’m trying to connect with everybody. From country to country, state to state, I’ll look at the issues and I’ll address them on a large scale from my perspective. That tends to grab people’s attention, so that’s how I like to do that. 

Eargrub: So, both you and I know you have a massive library. Do you have a favorite albums amongst the rest?

Viper: Maaaan, you know, the one that I really really dig, and I hate to say this, is the one that I’m working on right now. Sadly it’s not available yet, and I’m sorry about that. There are so many of my albums that I really like, though, I just can’t say they’re the best. You got The Southwest Hooligan, Hustlin’ ThickPlush Player – I liked A Day in the Life of Lee Carter, that has some of my new stuff on there. I like a lot of them man. I’ll even throw out I’m Gonna Kill Them Pussy Niggas That Killed 2Pac, that was a good one. Man, if the people just listen to one of my albums, they’ll want to come back and listen to more.

Eargrub: When people describe you, they generally will use the term “struggle rapper.” Do you find that sort of label derogatory?

Viper: There are a lot of terms that are out there right now that describe my type of rap. It’s interesting because in the Rap business, any type of publicity is good publicity. So, the negative publicity is good as well as the positive publicity. So, that’s bottom line, basically.

Eargrub: So what’s a dream collaboration for you?

Viper: A dream collaboration for me right now would be – I would like to do some work with RBX, Big Syke, DMX, Xzibit. You know, Lil B, Soulja Boy, Gucci Mane, 50 Cent, The Game, Lil Durk, Chief Keef, OJ da Juiceman, anybody from NWA. Man, anyone from NWA would be a dream. Oh, Public Enemy! They we’re one of those groups for me growing up.

Eargrub: So, how do you feel about a rapper like Lil B who many people compare you to?

Viper: Lil B is really talented. His whole camp, Pac Div, man, they a really talented group. My cousin lives in Oakland and he’s trying to reach out to get a feature track done since I’m heading out to the west coast in March to shoot a couple videos, one in Oakland and one in Seattle. So, when I get out to Oakland, I’m going to try to reach out to Lil B. I’ll be taking my portable studio with me and have a track all ready. I’ll have my DSLR camera with me and try to get a track finished and a video with him if I can reach him. I’ll be trying my best.

Eargrub: What should someone who doesn’t know much about you know about Viper?

Viper: I think my fans and the whole market should know that I’m more than just a Gangsta Rapper. I’m a musician, I’m a pianist, I’m a CEO and business owner, I am a college graduate. If you go to MTV.com/artists/Viper you can read my bio. You can also go to my reverbnation.com/viper4. You can read my bios and they’ll tell you how I started with playing the piano for my daddy’s church when I was seven years old all the way up to when I graduated from high school at 16. I kept playing the piano and making beats and then got deep into Rap in the late 90’s. During this time I was going to college studying business and got my degree. Right now I’m a Texas real estate broker. So, for me, it’s not just about the Rap music, I’m doing that to show the fans the side of Rap they may not have seen in a long time, that being the true, hardcore gangster side.

Eargrub: So, another term that people associate with you is “outsider Hip hop.” Do you identify with that at all?

Viper: Yeah, I do. It’s kind of like the “struggle rapper” label, what it means is that my struggle as a rapper is a little harder than other artists because my style is not as mainstream. I’ve got to struggle more to get in the scene more than some other people. The same goes with the “outsider Hip hop” thing, I agree with that too because I’m kind of on the outside looking in right now. It’s frusterating right now because my take-your-shirt-off-beat-your-chest Hip hop style is much like many artists in the past. Not that they’re gone, but you don’t really see any of that anymore. That certainly isn’t what MTV is showing. What you’re seeing right now is a commercial crossover type swag. You’re not seeing the baggy pants anymore, you’re not seeing the rapper with his shirt off with a bandana on, you’re not seeing that anymore. That’s all still relevant though; if you go to the hood that’s what you’re going to see. You’re not going to see that other stuff in the hood. My whole thing is that I’m bringing back what you’re going to see in the hood. Mainstream TV wants to censor that because they want you to see a certain image. I want to bring back the familiar image, like what you see when you go back home to see mom and dad. So, as an outsider looking in, I’m just going to have to keep banging on this door until they let me in. At some point I’ll be an insider, but right now I’m thankful for people like you who put my story out there so people will know what’s coming.

Eargrub: It’s an honor man. It’s something that has to be heard. So is that your main goal with your music? To spread the real image of the hood?

Viper: That’s the main goal man. The only difference in my swag is that I do everything myself. I’m not saying that that makes me moreelaborate or anything like that, but it’s been a long time since people have been able to see a true gangster artist that comes out and has the talent to do everything. That’s what I’m trying to bring to the table. Also, hardcore rap is so linked to the underground world, and I’m trying to bring that back to the mainstream.

Eargrub: I’m going to name off some of your album titles and I want you to explain what they mean. First, I Seen a Skull.

Viper: Okay, what it means to me is that – when you look at a skull, you see the full spectrum of a person. You don’t see the face, you don’t see the color, and you don’t see any of the things that characterize a person. It’s the most rawest part of someone you can see and that’s why you see it in a lot of sciences today.

Eargrub: Rap Game Money is Much Different.

Viper: You know, I’m a real estate broker, I make real estate transactions and I get different types of money other than rap money. Rap money just comes in a different way, it’s kind of like its own entity. It’s funny, when I’m talking to my family and friends about the money that I made in a certain period, I’ll say it as that. I’ll say rap cash, rap money. If I’m talking about real estate I’ll refer to it as the real estate check. I always clarify what it is with my people. That’s why I said that – because when I’m looking at a Rap check, it comes from a different type of work.

Eargrub: One Million Vipers But Only One Viper.

Viper: What that meant was there are snakes, as far as the viper snake on the planet, and, you know, snakes in general. My point was that I want the world to see one viper. I want to be the one viper when they think of “viper.” I want them to think about the artist, and that will be it in the history of time.

Eargrub: Atomic Bombs and Mutually Assured Destruction is Fucking Stupid 2.

Viper: *laughs* Man, that was kind of an album to address some of the things that are pertinent right now. We dealing with North Korea, we dealing with Iraq. The bottom line is that we came really close to complete annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis and to put ourselves in that position again as a more mature society and as a more advanced world is really silly. There are some many ways we can keep these countries from having these technologies if we do it the right way. Other countries are just like us: they don’t want to blow the world up. So, let’s come together and make some things happen to where that’s not a worry.

Eargrub: One last one: Fuck Tha World It Ain’t Real I Bend Tha Spoon Wit My Mind.

Viper: *Continuous laughter*

Eargrub: I love these, by the way. I need to give you props, you can title a record like no other.

Viper: Man, that one was really, uhh, crazy. The reason why I wrote that one was, and this is another thing that people don’t know about me that I need to put out there, I’m actually a member of an organization that deals with cryogenics. So, basically, when I pass, I’ma be preserved and brought back later. The whole concept behind the album was that when I do come back, hopefully technology will be good enough to where I can be trained in some sort of mental telepathy. It was a crazy concept, but that’s what it was about. But I want to encourage everybody to look into that. My company is Alcor Life Preservation. There are several out there, but it’s just another option.

Eargrub: So, you touched on this earlier, but what do you see as your next step?

Viper: My next step is this album, The Jamminest Album U Eva Heard – and I’ve heard some people say “is jamminest even a word?” It comes from jamming, and jamminest is a word just like “winning” to “winninest.” So that’s a word, I just took the G off. When someone thinks something sounds good they say it’s jamming. So, I’m working on that, I’ve got all those tracks done. I’m hoping to do a video for each song, put them all on YouTube, and I’m goig to try to get at least one or two on Worldstar. Also, by the way, I have a website called WorldRapStar. It’s up now, it’s not fully functional. But I want everybody to know that it’s going to be an alternative to Worldstar. It’s going to be a place where artists can upload their stuff for a lot cheaper than what Worldstar is charging. It’s like $700 a video for them, while mine will be more in the neighborhood of five or ten bucks at first. But that’s just some information for the people. But, anyways, I’m going to try and get this album out. Get the video played on a local tv show. Hopefully if I get enough buzz I can get on the big TV channels, then I can actually let people know who I am.

Eargrub: Who are you listening to right now who we are probably sleeping on?

Viper: I’m listening to a lot of stuff people are probably listening to, actually. I’m listening to some of the younger Chicago guys right now – there are dozens of them out of there. I’m listening to the artists who are doing the autotunes, there are quite a few doing that. Believe it or not, that’s all I’m really listening to right now. Been really digging on these younger guys. I’m really loving what they are doing.

Eargrub: Any closing words for the people at home?

Viper: Yeah, I do. My number is 281-690-9705. That’s my personal cell phone, so if you want to text me on that line, that would be cool, since I get some business calls on there. But, if you text me, you’ll be in my text log. All my fans are free to text me and ask anything they want. If there are any promoters out there, I’m looking to set up a tour wherever. I just want to thank everybody for the support that I’ve been getting and I’d love for you to continue the Viper movement.

I have to add that this was one of my favorite interviews I’ve ever conducted. Viper is kind, personable, and humble dude who truly thinks the world of his fans. You can peep all of his more than 333 album discography on Spotify. You can also follow him on Twitter and show your love directly.

Charlie Johns

The Listening Party: MIKE’s Sherm

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We’ve gotten pretty tight with young New York emcee MIKE over the past few months. We even had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his process, which you can check out here. So, this the recent release of his sherm project, we reached out and asked MIKE to write up a little explanation of each track. Listen through the project and learn where each of its tracks come from.

“man I miss when the world didn’t matter and I spent every day in my head” [prod. chambry]:

This song basically reflects my last year. I was in a mode that made it as if I could run away from all my problems and just, like, simulate happiness in my mind. Some sort of happiness, I guess. I was really independent, and that’s a beautiful place to be.

“gritz” [prod. shamaan rogers]:

This song is basically about expressing thoughts of fury and anger. It’s even in ratio with the beat. It’s really bumpy, almost uncoordinated. It just tries too express how I think through my anger.

“witches” [prod. sulu]:

This song is basically me just talking my shit. It’s like sort of a reflection on my shitty side.

“3000 BPE” ft 6press [prod. 6press]:

Man, this was actually a fucking awesome freestyle with the talented 6press. That’s my brother man. We was in the studio and just started fucking around. 3000 BPE is where I reside and shit. That’s basically it.

“baldwin” [prod. Aksua]:

Alright, so I’m mostly calm at times, and pretty humble. Although, there are always people who try to test your manhood, or just try to push you around because of your respect for people or whatever. The song is just saying that I’m really just acting as if I’m apart of this normal custom, but when it’s the right time I’ll start fucking around.

“zilla” ft 6press [prod. frost]:

Another track done with my bro Pressy. The beginning is actually some Filipino movie. The lady is saying “no, you hurt me, I can’t believe you lied” or some shit like that. It’s pretty cool. “zilla” was just us introducing ourselves, contrasting our different styles and putting it in a song.

“8 DIAGRAM RUFF” [prod. drrks.wrkstation]:

Man, Derrick honestly went crazy with this beat man. This guy lost all morals and made this shit. But “8 DIAGRAM RUFF” is basically me talking about our crew SLUMS. Me, 6PRESS, Drrks.Wrkstation, and Double Dee.

“siSTER” [prod. deadxbeat]:

“siSTER” is about my sister and my niece (her daughter). My sister and I are really close, and she had triplets. They were premature, so two of them went home and one had to stay. My father and I spent every single day with her in the hospital. I gained a connection but she eventually ended up passing. So, yeah. That’s what this songs about.

“Nights with Eve” [prod. deadxbeat]:

In “Nights With Eve” I used the Adam and Eve story in the  a present context. I get put on with music and I’m in the industry and shit, the system representing Eve. I’m passing the mic, which is the apple, to my friends, which are representing Adam, and putting them on even though I know it’s a fucked place to be in.

“DANNY TURNER 2.0″ [prod. Contour]:

This song is about an English fuckboy. He’s one of my closest friends, man. This kid is the most wild person I know. He’s a big influence on me and a close friend on mine.  It’s pretty much based around his attitude and outlook on life. That dude’s my big bro.

“Mer.Cay.deez” ft Elissa Mielke [prod. vinyl bump]:

“Mer.Cay.deez” (Mercedes) is me pouring out my feelings towards somebody. I also discuss how I’m sort of broke so I can’t give you everything, but the best I can give you is me. That sorta thing. Also, Elisse really put this song together. Her voice really adhered everything together and gave a nice jazzy feel to it. I love her music, man.

“Jerusalem (holy interlude)” [prod. drrck.wrkstation]:

“Jerusalem” is just a song where I show my power. Sort of a commanding feeling, you know? And I’m just explaining how I do shit on my holy land or whatever.

“Minnesota” [prod. deadxbeat]:

“Minnesota” is a story consisting some parts of my life, like falling into temptation to make huge money and partaking in events that are ratio’d to not work in my favor. It’s just about appreciating the hustle, man.

“(risks).” [prod. vinyl bump]:

“(risks).” is about my life towards the end of the summer when I was going through some deep depressing shit. It’s me self-reflecting on how I try to pick myself up but I end up channeling into the same cycle of bullshit. The part about my Dad is just me expressing some real feelings. My father is a cool guy, everybody has their own issues.

“CHALK” [prod. OHBLEEDRO]:

Before I talk about the song, I want to give a big shout out to ohbliv and akeedro. ‘Keedro is the homie, man. These guys really went in on this beat and did their thing. This song is about running away from the norms; like running away from the category people are so quick to throw you in. I feel like that’s what belittles the Hip hop game today, being categorized into one genre, one look. This one person that we’re actually not at all. Well at least I’m not. I have intentions to make all types of music and shit, but not country. That shit’s just fucked up.

You can go and download sherm from MIKE’s Soundcloud.

Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$ (Extended Review)

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Brooklyn emcee Joey Bada$$ became the game’s hottest polarizing act in 2012 when he released his debut mixtape, 1999. The mixtape was released to critical acclaim and recognition, but many of the most devout Hip hop heads began to question the overall style and originality of the mixtape. Their argument was justifiable; both the beats and Joey’s flows on the project are very reminiscent of late 90’s era New York boom bap. So reminiscent, in fact, that many people saw the project as pure replication. When this argument arose, it cast the project in a much different light. Some continued to praise the album as a honest homage while others poked at its lack of creativity. I, conveniently, fell pretty much in the middle. As far as that sound goes, he really did nail that era of Rap. I mean, if Hip hop enjoys that sound, Joey Bada$$ is a more than capable emcee to carry the touch. I’ve written this before, but I just think the kid has so much potential, and he may not be able to reach the fullest extents of that potential if he were to stay in this box. That box being a sound that he has proven that he can preform well with. So, with all this being said, B4.DA.$$ was the release Joey was going to show everyone with. And though this project may not hold up to the “Revolutionary Rap” label that Joey often uses to describe his music, it’s certainly a great step forward into new creative grounds. Joey proves himself as a versatile rapper who can hold his own behind any number of production styles. This, along with a few other standout impressions, help B4.DA.$$ shape up to a project that’s incredibly solid and one that will make a strong foundation to an exciting discography.

One thing that was happy to see that there aren’t too many features on B4.DA.$$. Lots of artists tend to release their debut while banking heavily on guest verses to fill out the rest of their album. The lack of features is promising not only because this is Joey’s first full-length LP, but that Joey came up with a bunch of other rappers in Pro Era who are very accustomed to backing up their homies on tracks. As a comparison, 1999 had 15 tracks in total with eight of those having guest verses on them. Not including bonus tracks, B4.DA.$$ also has 15 songs with only four of them sporting features. And to be frank, this is a positive thing for Joey. He tends to shine much brighter than the rest of his crew members, with a sound that is more honed and lyricism that is a bit more out-of-the-box. This is generally how it goes, the same happened with Rocky and Ferg in the A$AP Mob, Chance the Rapper in the savemoney Crew, and with Danny Brown in the Bruiser Brigade. With that argument comes the real weight behind B4.DA.$$. If this project were to flop, Pro Era would have to really make a push to stay relevant. I mean, there are a lot of compelling acts coming out of New York, Beast Coast affiliated and otherwise. You’ve got the newly formed Clockwork Indigo along with the two groups that formed it, the Flatbush Zombies and the Underachievers. You’ve got A$AP Rocky and Ferg who we’re hoping to hear projects from respectively within the year. You’ve even got someone like Bobby Shmurda who I think could play his cards right and do something cool in 2015. Purely based on the sound of the album, Joey knocks it out of the park. The dude finds his sound and stands on his own well.

Okay, so we know that Joey can rap his ass off from 1999. That’s what ultimately gave that mixtape the success that it saw. Joey exhibited so much raw talent on tracks like “Don’t Front” and “Hard Knock” and really showed the public he has the technical skill. This is a trend that is continued on B4.DA.$$ with Joey further showing us what he’s all about. There are a ton of memorable flows here. I personally really dig on the in-your-face bars on “Christ Conscious”, the smooth fluidity of “Like Me”, and the overall hunger on “Big Dusty”. And while we’re here, I’d also like to comment on the young Atlanta talent Raury impressing on “Escape 120”. That dude rapped impressively, so much so that he kind of outshines Joey. And this happens on a track like “Escape 120″, which I thought was a bit lackluster. To be fair, I remember just two years ago when Joey was the dude doling out the standouts on other emcees’ tracks, so no harm no foul I suppose.

Past the rapping itself, Joey’s lyricism was and continues to be what keeps surprising me about this project. I couldn’t have predicted his rhymes to be this sobering, but I feel this marks an excellent progression. A song like “Black Beetles” is a far cry from some of the weed raps that Joey has released in the past. In this respect, the track that really caught me was “O.C.B.”. Having the “only child blues” is hardly typical subject matter for a rap song, but Joey’s presence and confidence on the mic makes it work. And not to keep bring this up, but I don’t think the 17 year old who released 1999 could have rocked that. He made me feel for him on a more personal level with that track. And this being proceeded with “Black Beetles” and followed by “Curry Chicken” was a great, great way to end the project. Joey shows his maturity all over this album. And if you need another comparison that less musical and more face-to-face, I suggest you watch both of his interviews with Montreality. They interviewed Joey both right after the release of 1999 when his rise to fame was probably more dislodging than anything else, and again a couple months before B4.DA.$$. At least for me this is a very obvious example of his growth. I mean, that 17 to 19, that’s a period that I’m fresh out of just as Joey is. Immediate success generally halts the whole process of growing up and coming into yourself, but Joey seems to have hit it in stride.

I’m going to be honest and say that I was getting worried that this album would suffer from over sharing. By release we had heard seven singles. As he kept dropping more and more I stopped hitting those soundcloud links. Despite how ruckus “No. 99” was, I had hopes to actually listening to B4.DA.$$ as a whole. This is the debut project from one of the biggest New York rappers of our time. I want that as a complete piece of music. Also, before this project, Joey was still an unproven artist in my eyes. I had some worries that he was unwisely shoveling out his best work, his nicest flows, his some gripping beats to stoke the hype fire to an album that would fill itself out with filler tracks. In reality, post-release, I was wrong. B4.DA.$$ is the album that it should be as this dude’s debut. Unlike the still very good 1999 mixtape, Joey comes into himself on this project. It makes me happy because you can really tell this is the type of music Joey has been aspiring to make. And of course you can still hear some of his influences, but what can you really expect? He had to pick up one or two things being a rapper who was rushed to find his voice after setting a wildfire with a mixtape at just 17. He deserves his props, he released a project where he etched out his own category when he could have stayed with the style he knew. I guess it may come down to the dude was on his game exactly when he needed to be. Like I said before, if this would have been released and been a dud I’m not sure what would have come of Pro Era. But it seems that B4.DA.$$ is on a level that will keep that a mystery. Well played, Mr. Bada$$. You’ve made yourself an excellent foundation and I look forward to the discography that is built on it.

Go support Joey Bada$$ by copping his debut album here.

Personal highpoints: “Big Dusty” / “Like Me” / “Christ Conscious” / “O.C.B.”

Personal lowpoint: “Teach Me” (Bonus Track)

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Charlie Johns

 

Freddie Gibbs and Hanni El Khatib – Satin Black

freddie gibbs and hanni

Along with the likes of Pusha T and Jay Rock, Freddie Gibbs is a rapper who’s troubled past of dope dealin’ and lick hittin’ genuinely helps his music rise to levels above rappers who rap about the same things. Maybe it’s the voice, maybe it’s his presence on the mic, but I do not doubt the real life experience behind any of Freddie Gibbs’ lyricism. People like him are making the most authentic, compelling, and socially conscious Gangster Rap the game has ever seen, and I’m including NWA in that conversation. Artists like Gibbs make music that we will look back on as used the resurgence of this type of rapping caused by more mainstream artists like ScHoolboy Q and YG to make deep music that speaks on topics that should be important to anyone who cares about Hip hop or any of the culture that surrounds the genre.

This is a really productive collaboration to start off the new year for Gibbs. After 2014’s incredibly complex and well-rounded Piñata, Gangsta Gibbs returns with LA based producer Hanni El Khatib to give us this slapper. Gibbs snaps hard and with the vengeance over Khatib’s thrashy and punchy production. He’s shown that all he needs to drop gems is a great producer behind him, which Khatib certainly provides. Freddie Gibbs is someone people need to be appreciating more, being that the music he makes has a sound has a longevity that will stand the test of time in Hip hop. With that, let’s hope we see his follow up to Piñata this year, which has been said to be titled Lifestyles of the Insane.

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Charlie Johns

Ghostface Killah & BADBADNOTGOOD (feat. MF Doom) – Ray Gun

DOOMSTARKS_MF_DOOM_Ghostface_Killah_Swift_Changeable_The_Prequel_Hip_Hop_Is_Read

Under the careful and forward-thinking guidance of Toronto Jazz group BADBADNOTGOOD, the DOOMSTARKS collaboration has connected once again on “Ray Gun”. This track comes off BBNG’s forthcoming project Sour Soul, which has Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah set to emcee. “Ray Gun” is also coming in the wake of two other collaborative singles, one with Elzhi and the other with Danny Brown. With explanation out of the way, let’s get into the track.

There are two factors that contribute to a Hip hop albums success, those being the rapping and the production. This may seem obvious, but the production of a project generally is put on the back burner, or at least emcees settle for beats that simply bang rather than choosing production that can stand on its own. There is something really special about a rapper and a producer being on the same page through an entire release. Take Madvilliany for example; MF Doom and Madlib came together with a great deal of synergy, and as a result created a record that many hold as one of if not the best Hip hop album of all time. I couldn’t say that I’m predicting that level of success for Sour Soul, but I think it’s got a huge leg up on the surface level Hip hop that is all too common today. With that being said, “Ray Gun” continues to boost my expectations and calm any apprehension from the album’s release. With the level of care being put into these singles I couldn’t see this record falling flat. Luckily, we don’t have too long to wait, with the official release date being set as February 24th.

Peep the collaboration below.

BBNG: Facebook  Twitter  Soundcloud

Ghostface: Facebook  Twitter  Soundcloud

Charlie Johns

Action Bronson – Actin’ Crazy

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Action Bronson has a career built on impressing any and all who choose to listen to his music with ridiculously entertaining lyricism and beyond technically proficient flow. “Actin Crazy” features a Bam Bam who’s as sharp as ever writing a surprisingly sobering song. Bronson still finds a way of putting his twist into the lyricism; a conscious chorus of “Why you think I’m out here actin’ crazy?” (referring to his character purposefully garnering attention) is immediately followed with “I feel so alive I think I shit myself, I should kiss myself.” With this seamless mixing of the ridiculous and the well-aware, I’ve finally gotten fully excited about the Queens rapper’s forthcoming album Mr. Wonderful. Check out his exhausting flow below, and don’t get caught sleeping on Bam Bam.

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Charlie Johns

Eargrub’s Notable Hip Hop of 2014 (Part 2)

notable hop pt2

Coming off of the giant 2013 the rap game had, us Hip hop heads could only hope 2014 would also impress us. Luckily for us, this year kept up. For every Wolf or My Name Is My Name we had a Days Before Rodeo or Hell Can Wait to keep pace. Before we get into the list, I want to note that everything past this point was written by my homie Jesse. You can peep his twitter here. Also, you can read part one of this list here.

ScHoolboy Q – Oxymoron:

Late 2013 and throughout all of 2014, Schoolboy Q exploded with fame and popularity. With that along with the release of his third full length album Oxymoron, Q brought a lot to the table. Oxymoron had a plethora of singles with a gargantuan amount of views and plays with joints like “Man of the Year” and “Collard Greens” that kept Q’s momentum going into the New Year. 2014 brought even more videos, more monster singles like “Hell of a Night” and “Studio”.

I’ve always been big on Q but I can see how this album easily appeals to so many people. Variety is key; smooth R&B joints, grimy muddy bangers like “What They Want”, more story-telling and engaging songs like “Hoover Street” and “Break the Bank” litter the tracklist.  Schoolboy Q seized this year in a musical chokehold and here’s to hoping he takes over in 2015.

Peep our extended review here.

The Migos – No Label 2:

Now this is a really fun one to write about. The Migos might have one of the most quotable albums in existence with No Label 2. This album, along with many of the other albums we’re covering in this list, have been on repeat in my house since the release.

No question about it, No Label 2 is the most lively and hype-oriented mixtape out this year. I commend the Migos for being trap rappers with legitimately technical rapping abilities. Some of these flows that these guys bring on these traps are impeccable; see “Body Parts” for just one instance of Offset’s amazing flow. Not only do the trio of guys hit delivery and flow well, they also show they’re diverse with their style. More low-key songs like “YRN” are executed well and the trio even demonstrates narrative rapping with “Hot Boy” and “No Label 2 (Intro).”

No Label 2 is the album that trap rappers should aspire to make.

Mac Miller – Faces:

I’ve always liked Mac Miller as a person and enjoyed his personality in all of his interviews. But alas I have never been much for his music. However, Faces was able to turn the skeptic that I am into a fan.

Much like the aforementioned No Label 2 and Oxymoron, this project has a lot of different styles and song formulas. On this free mixtape, Mac Miller has not only honed his newly found “style,” if  you could call it that, but he nearly perfects it. Gone is the Mac that’s making stoner frat boy music and in comes the Mac that raps about his extremely personal issues and borderline crippling addictions. Don’t let this dissuade you from listening, this album definitely isn’t as depressing as I may be describing it as. The Pittsburg emcee still knows how to have a good time.

Not only does Mac Miller show off his flow, personality, and various rapping abilities, but he also shows himself off as an excellent producer. Serving as executive producer on this mixtape, Mac produced over half of the lengthy 24-song tracklist. In short, this is an incredibly impressive mixtape on many fronts.

We’ve got more thoughts over on our full review of the mixtape.

Sir Michael Rocks – Banco:

Sir Michael Rocks, one half of The Cool Kids along with Chuck Inglish, dropped his debut solo album. While Mikey’s popularity may have never been on the levels of some rappers out here, he’s always had a very consistent following, whether it be from The Cool Kids or his solo endeavors.

Sir Michael Rocks produced two of the songs on this album, “Playstation 1.5” and “Fuck Seaworld,” neither of which I am a huge fan of. However, he doesn’t need to be a great producer; Sir Michael Rocks will always have a huge fan base for his really fun tracks and punchlines. This album is not the most technical nor experienced sounding album to come out this year, but very few albums this year can be as funny or just as enjoyable to listen to as Banco. There’s a lot of really great features on here from the likes of Mac Miller, Twista, Too Short and even Florida natives and personal friends of Mikey, Robb Bank$ and Pouya.

A lot of witty punchlines and entertaining flows and rhyme schemes make Banco a project you should definitely check out and Sir Michael Rocks an emcee you should keep on your radar.

Hail Mary Mallon – Bestiary:

Break out your treasures and dictionaries my friends, here comes the return of Hail Mary Mallon, Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic’s duo. Should you have had the misfortune of never finding these long-time underground legends and veterans, here’s a brief run-down: expertly produced instrumentals, lyrics that are nearly indecipherable unless you’ve got years of literary degrees, and a delivery that fits every beat perfectly are the skills that these two guys bring to the world of Hip hop.

While this might be one of my favorite albums this year, it may not suit the pallets that many casual listeners have. Of course the whole album isn’t a slurred-together mess of randomly selected words from the nearest Oxford Dictionary; Aes and Rob know exactly what they’re doing and hit their lyricism perfectly. In very stark contrast to an album like Banco, this record isn’t nearly as light hearted and fun. This album calls to Hip hop heads that appreciate superhuman lyrical precision and vocal acrobatics.

The Underachievers – Cellar Door: Terminus ut Exordium:

2014 saw the debut album of The Underachievers, Cellar Door: Terminus ut Exordium. This project is similar to the previous entry from Hail Mary Mallon being that diverse and impressive vocabulary and flows are what exactly what Issa Gold and AK excel in.

AK’s specialty is spitting long verses at an unbelievably fast pace. On the other side, Issa gets the vocabulary and wordplay down tight. These guys have a really great chemistry and their styles mesh together soundly to provide a really nice vibe. And this isn’t even mentioning how extremely hard some of these beats go.

Not every beat on this album is necessarily meant to go in super hard though. Songs like “Quiescent” are very much chilled out and mellow and The Underachievers hit this style too excellently. But, alas, as no album is perfect. The one gripe I’ve got with this release is the muddy vocal effects, or maybe the recording of the vocals. Something about them seems off. Issa sounds like he’s rapping through a sock on their mic on some of these tracks. It’s far from an album ruining offense, just something to be wary of as a first time listener.

More thoughts on the project can be found over at our extended review.

Clockwork Indigo – Clockwork Indigo EP:

Y’all knew this wasn’t the last you’d hear of The Underachievers. And what kind of list would this be if we left out the Zombies straight out of Flatbush? The long awaited collaboration between these two Flatbush, New York groups came together in 2014 to drop a brand new EP and a tour to coincide with it.

The Flatbush Zombies and The Underachievers and their short 5 song EP does certainly live up to the expectations. The single, “Butterfly Effect” is essentially a 7 minute long power ballad, with verses from each member of both groups. This entire tracklist really shines for me, and these songs might be home to the hardest verses of 2014. Meech sounds like a blood thirsty maniac, Erick casually goes in as always, Juice shows everybody up on “XYNO” with pure fire, Issa hits his lyricism and vocab consistently, and, of course, AK has that untouchable flow.

This is a really great, yet very short, EP that you really have no reason to not listen to. Hopefully more is to come from this super group.

Flatbush Zombies – ItsAllAMatterOfPerspective:

While not officially released, it’s certainly more than worth a mention on this list. The Flatbush Zombies have had this side project going on titled ItsAllAMatterOfPerspective currently made up of six songs. “Don’t Do Drugs Kids” is the banger of the EP so far, Meech and Erick kill their verses and almost distract you from how excellent Erick’s beat is.

Juice and Erick Arc Elliott take a somber and actually depressing style on “Get Yours.” Family issues, death and general personal losses come together to make a genuinely sad song which isn’t typical for the Zombies but they got it down. However, optimism is the underlying tone for “Get Yours” and that’s exactly my feeling towards this project when it’s finished. It’s not like these guys ever not deliver grade-A material.

Jesse Kilgore

Still looking for Run the Jewels 2, Days Before Rodeo, or My Krazy Life? Peep the first part to this list here!

Eargrub’s Notable Hip Hop of 2014 (Part 1)

notable hop 2014

2013 may have had massive albums like Acid Rap, Wolf, and Yeezus, but 2014’s Hip hop releases did not disappoint. This year was home to production trailblazing, modern classics coming from artists you wouldn’t have expected had it in them, and fresh faces who shook our expectations and torn up the scene. Get your fire emojis ready fam, here’s the most important Hip hop of 2014.

Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2:

The sequel to Run The Jewel’s 2013 smash hit self-titled project, October’s Run The Jewels 2 is an album that flows and cascades powerfully like a mighty river. The duo (composed of Killer Mike and El-P) had a great balance of verses on their first release, but for the sequel Killer Mike seems to have sauntered into the emcee spotlight. His verses were the one’s dropping my jaw. This isn’t to say that El-P doesn’t have his place here, the dude provides much needed lyrical support as well as some of the craziest production from 2014. El-P plays a very Madvilliany-era Madlibesque role on RTJ2, providing distinct and unduplicable production while still jumping in on tracks and dropping verses. In fact he drops some of the most memorable gems here. Continuing on, most of the hooks are crazy strong earworms, especially on the first half of this LP. As testament, I’m not sure I’d trust a person who doesn’t blast the chorus to “Lie, Cheat, Steal”. That’s another thing, this is an album that demands to be listened to at a high volume. I’m not a dude who needs their music booming by any means, but mothers are going to try and ban this album for how much ear damage it’s going to cause. RTJ2 is musical masochism at its finest and I was not fully ready for how kick ass it is. Shit’s real bananas.

Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo:

This young Chattanoogan TDE member released a debut EP way back in January that perfectly walks the line between deeply personal introspection and universal accessibility, and I for one think people haven’t been giving Isaiah the credit he deserves. Cilvia Demo accomplishes all the little things in a release that you don’t need but nonetheless love when they are present. The tracks don’t over stay their welcome, the struggles that are explored are very relatable, and each song has its own well-executed sound. I mean, it’s even the little stuff. Personally, I love a title track that is characteristic of the project as a whole, and “Cilvia Demo” is just that. The release was very well described by the emcee himself when he talked about its development: “At first it was going to be like eight tracks for one-in-a-half-minutes, just verses. Then it was going to be some alternative, black-power shit. Then it was going to be some eclectic-alien shit. Then it was going to be some Southern-banging shit. Now it’s kind of all of that, except for the banging shit. It ain’t with the intention of turning up to it, that’s not my shit. I just want you to vibe out to it. Have a good time and put you in a certain mood. It’s real peaceful, real calmful.” And I can agree with all of that (especially “calmful”), but here’s what I have to say: Cilvia Demo is a project that is honest enough that you can connect with it on a very human level. It’s raw, sentimental, and passionate. I couldn’t say this is the best release of 2014, but it’s lasted among my personal favorites.

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!:

Flying Lotus has one of if not the most impressive discography among his contemporaries. But there’s an immediate caveat: FlyLo’s music can’t really be compared to anything else, so it’s tough to even conceive the idea that he has people he’s trying to best. His fusion-Jazz/electronic/Hip-hop/alien-sounding releases are out of the best corner of left field. Flying Lotus is like the kid in school that’s super wild and listens to the best bands and keeps to himself but is the person you wish you were hanging out with. To be honest, I couldn’t tell you with full confidence that Flying Lotus is a human like us. And not to transition too seamlessly, the sound of You’re Dead! is very other-worldly and tough to explain. To add to that, by their nature heavily instrumental projects such as this are highly conceptual, so any and all meaning is up to interpretation. And I guess this is all to say that I can’t tell you much about what this album means, but I can tell you concretely that You’re Dead! is a damn beautiful LP. From track one to 19 this project is a steady stream of emotional, formidable excellence. It’s a shame that we are a musical society of single tracks because this is a release that I would never advise listening to bits and pieces of. So, being that my words can’t do its lush production and resonance justice, sit down for a while and explore You’re Dead! from beginning to end knowing that it’s one of a kind.

 Travi$ Scott – Days Before Rodeo:

May I present the mixtape that made Kanye West rethink the sound of his new 7th album: the followup to 2013’s Owl Pharaoh, Travi$ Scott’s Days Before Rodeo. Travi$ Scott finally dropped the project with the breath and sound he’s been trying to achieve for years. Simultaneously trappy and timeless, as well as both ignorant and sincere, I see this mixtape as a huge success for the Houston rapper just by the amount of engagement people seem to be having with it. But, also, I think the main success of Days Before Rodeo is how it’s such a great amalgamation of so many things. The lyricism is one part honest introversion, staying very heartfelt and intimate on a track like “Drugs You Should Try” and another part entertaining ignorance on a track like “Basement Freestyle”, which mixes farty synths, steady basskicks, and a hook of “All this money on the table / We don’t want relations, we don’t want no conversations / Fuck around and change your world.” On the production side, we’ve got another spectrum with one side being dark, heavy, and ever trudging forward (fittingly so) on a track like “Zombies” to “Drugs You Should Try”, which is an absolutely beautiful blend of space-y guitars and an overall cloudiness of production, slowly adding in some well-placed 808’s and high hats. This mixtape dances between the monstrous and the whimsical and I hardly noticed a middle ground. Other notes: Travis has a real ear for completion in his music, but with that being said, the bonus track is a great post-mixtape suppliment. Just as a single track it’s ridiculously fun. And “Bacc” isn’t really meant to be thought about in regards to thematic prevalence, but if you do, god damn. What an unflinching shift in tone. Either way it’s a wild way to end the tape.

Lil Herb – Welcome to Fazoland/Pistol P Project:

Chicago Drill emcee Lil Herb dropped two grab-bag mixtapes that were pretty hit or miss. Both lacked concentration, which isn’t too shocking since the music from the Drill scene is usually pretty one-dimensial. The reason why I’m writing about both of these releases is that I think they are entirely too slept on for the potential that they show. In my mind G Herbo has already separated himself from most of the other Drill scene artists with these two projects, so now I’d really love to see him capitalize. I have a feeling if this dude focuses on his it project, whether that be his label debut, a concept EP or otherwise, I can see him making it critically. Like, I cannot listen to “Real” and not have high hopes for this dude’s career. If he uses the success of his Welcome to Fazoland mixtape and becomes a bit more selective with his collaborations like he has been with recent collabs like the “Fight or Flight” remix or the recently released “Knucklehead” joint with Earl Sweatshirt, I can see him making some huge waves. So, have your fire emojis at the ready, and here’s hoping Herbie really focuses and hones his sound in 2015.

YG – My Krazy Life:

Compton rapper YG wowed his critics by dropping an album that wasn’t just rich in narrative but expansive in its listener base. This is the project this year that I heard most on the radio, which is important whether we like it or not. Enmeshed in gang culture and soaked in project influences, you can’t expect YG ever to wear his heart and emotions on his Blood-red sleeve, but a song like “Really Be” has such a great place on this project. YG seems like a dude who needs to talk about what he’s seen. We also should hold this album dear because DJ Mustard’s pioneering production probably won’t be heard this focused and thriving any time soon. DJ Mustard produced My Krazy Life and helped give the release much more of a distinct identity sonically. But, according to this, the two have some heavy beef. But, you can read our extended review if you want more reasons to mourn this loss of this connection. Also, side note, I’ve purposefully not mentioned Blame It On the Streets. On the low it’s pretty butt. The only new joint that is notable is “2015 Flow”, which, to YG’s credit, rises above the rest of the album.

Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait:

I’m going to be straight up with y’all and say that Hell Can Wait is most likely my favorite release of this year. So, fair warning, this may be pure subjective bias-ridden praise, but here’s a bit of my reasoning. Firstly, I think Vince Staples is one of the rappers in Hip hop with a sound that is unarguably solidified. The release that Hell Can Wait is working up to, whatever it may be, will be the same sound we hear on this release, just further sharpened and tightened, because it is far from needing work.Vince’s rapping is characterized by flow that is impeccably confident, lyricism that is blunt, well written, and culturally expressive, and smart production choices that rock your conscious. As said by California emcee Earl Sweatshirt, “he’s a freak, dude . . . He takes the shortest amount of time to do the tightest shit. I like to keep Vince around when I’m writing shit because I think he’s better than me.” Vince is a rapper’s rapper. He doesn’t dip into the stereotypical flex bar territory and stays comfortably and successfully in his own domain, rapping about his upbringing and the violence and chaos that surrounded it. Plus, Hell Can Wait is the project that is still affecting me. Just now, as I was listening to “Fire” for this write up, I caught a the bar “My momma had me where them babies havin’ babies at” and got goose bumps. Everything in Hell Can Wait is just so well put together. Literally the only flaw I could hear is that the hook on the closing track is kind of weak. Past that the rest is golden.

I’m also a big fan of Vince’s other 2014 release Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2, which you can peep our review for here.

Death Grips – Niggas on the Moon:

We’ve got an extended review of this project here, so I’ll just be underscoring some of our defense of this project and its place in the Death Grips discography. Niggas on the Moon is the first half to the group’s supposed last release, a double LP entitled The Powers The B. This was dropped right around the time that Death Grips revealed this image, announcing that after they drop the second half of the LP the group will be officially broken up. That being said, I think that however Jenny Death turns out, the heads will be appeased. The first half of this LP didn’t get this guaranteed appreciation. In fact, many DG fans saw it as a misstep in the same vein as 2013’s Government Plates. I, for one, enjoyed it. I didn’t think it was as masterful as The Money Store, but it really isn’t the runt that everyone is thinking of it as. This project stands on its own and has some really crazy tracks that deserve to be considered. Like, “Up My Sleeves” is like walking through a tornado with a broken record player whipping through the air around you. What else do you expect from Death Grips? I think when people get annoyed with Death Grips for not aspiring towards their fans’ expectations they are selling this experimental act we hold so dear short. Appreciating Death Grips requires understanding the music along with its rebellion and chaos, and knowing that your expectations as a listener is what Death Grips is going against. After all, defying expectations is what Death Grips is all about. So with that being said, listen and dig in, because Niggas on the Moon is deeper than others give it credit for.

A$AP Ferg – Ferg Forever:

A$AP Mob member and a born and raised Harlem emcee, the self-proclaimed Trap Lord A$AP Ferg released his second major project following 2013’s Trap Lord. Ferg Forever is a super fun oddball of a mixtape that displays Ferg’s ability as a rapper and (surprisingly) a vocalist very well. The Fergestein has made leaps and bounds in terms of progression since Trap Lord. This isn’t to say that every track is as off-the-wall, unexpected, and innovative as one of the project’s singles “Doe-Active”, but it keeps you on your toes. What I need to give Ferg some props for past how animated his vocals are here is how much love he is showing to the game’s female rappers. We’ve got contributions from MIA, Crystal Caines, SZA, and the darkhorse of female rap, MZ 007. There’s also lots of great production choices by Ferg. He recruits the likes of Mississippi big brother Big Krit, the youngin Childish Major, Clams Casino, and Mike Will. I think Ferg Forever is a great mixtape but could do with a bit more focus. I’m not worried about Ferg in 2015. This project helped shed light on how smart of an artist he actually is. I know he has some stuff we aren’t ready for.

Also, “Let It Go 2″ is everything we could have asked for and more.

Freddie Gibbs/Madlib – Piñata:

The long awaited Freddie Gibbs and Madlib connection came up huge in early 2014, being considered critically one of the best, most well-refined albums of the past couple of years. The heads had hopes high enough to give the release an almost unfair amount of anticipation and hype. But the two talents come together in the smoothest way possible. Gibbs enters with a deep, eclectic voice to deliver very eloquent story telling while Madlib continues to march forward through his well-worn stomping grounds of melding samples into beats to create production that fully stand on its own. We went in depth in our extended review, which you can find here. If all you want are the facts, all you need to know that this is the most timeless project of 2014. Piñata is the project that will be among the classics of our era.

Mick Jenkins – The Water[s]:

Mick Jenkins arrived on the scene this year and instantly became the artist who is likely next up in the Hip hop game. He’s being very smart on how he’s building his foundation. His The Water[s] mixtape is a great example of this. He established himself as the new lyrically sharp conscious rapper on the block, dropping really smart bars like “just before you forgot about him, overlooked or started doubting, I doused it with the flow and started talking all this water shit / It’s like I started drowning, in truth, the thought is pounding / I started counting the loopholes in they stories that they tell us”. I am also really loving the character he’s playing on “Jerome.” Character tracks allow an artist to really explore another sound while still keeping a strong identity otherwise. It’s something that rappers new and old have had immense success with, whether it be MF Doom or Tyler, the Creator. Demographic wise, the best way I can decide his reach is that he is probably your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper, and that comes from him being a really respectable artist. He’s tackling the issues that need to be talked about. Past that, I think that the dude is set up to be a mad compelling act in Hip hop. Coming from the city of Chicago while the violence of Drill music is so prevalent and being so well spoken and respected really early on in his career, I could see him being Chicago’s Kendrick Lamar. Watch out for Mick in 2015 y’all.

 

Still looking for Oxymoron, No Label 2, or Banco? Peep the second part of this list here!

Charlie Johns