ISSUE 12 REVIEWS
“& just to clarify I was never in them streets but tell me what’s the difference when ya niggas in it deep”
Oakland’s Bryce Savoy delivers his album and 4th quarter trophy, King Diamond. The album has a lot of dope attributes that allow the listener/supporter into a deeper glimpse of Bryce Savoy and the environments and events that allows such a poet to flourish, express and inspire. From jump Bryce uses a piece of “Ocean Views” by the late Nipsey Hussle to grasp attention, set the tone and show how he’s carrying on Nipsey’s legacy in his own way - or even the ways in which he was influenced by Nip. Additionally, in “Forever Oakland” Bryce uses a clip of Tupac talkin’ about the importance of Oakland to him and from there the track turns into a beautiful ode to Oakland full of love and experiences. King Diamond in entirety is a well rounded album that displays variety, versatility and vulnerability. From love to independence to growth, goals, aspirations and manifestations King Diamond is undoubtedly a momentous project in Bryce Savoy's catalog. If ya ain’t had a listen yet you’re definitely missing out.
Notable Songs: "Heavy Head," "On the Phone," "Alotta That" & "Forever Oakland"
“lately I’ve been blessed because I haven’t been movin’ out of fear / the main goal is to double up from last year”
Dallas artist Aj Snow delivers his first project of the year, Don’t Pop Pills, Pop Champagne. Aj Snow is an artist I make sure to always to stay current because he’s creating his own lane while simultaneously maintaining a similar lane/tradition of playa, suave music that you might hear from the likes of Dom Kennedy, Larry June, LE$ and more. Some coin it “car raps,” “cruisin’ music” but truly at the root of it, it’s good music created by an innovative mind. Besides a fly and statement making title (in a time where pills and opioids are at an all time high) the content and sonics are real suave and real playa. Don’t Pop Pills, Pop Champagne serves as a playa’s manual/huster’s manual that focuses on leveling up, celebrating accomplishments or redirections, lifestyle changes and keeping your soul, body and mind aligned.
Notable Songs: "What's Happenin'," "Hustlers Need Love Too" & "Evening Cocktail"
“they see I’m ridin’ clean, they tryna throw dirt on my name/I can’t let them trick me out of positions I worked hard to claim”
New York MC, Malz Monday delivered and lyrical manifesto, Super Heroes Don’t Exist. The album art and title of the album make it seem as though it could be more than an audio album but could be a cartoon series that illustrates each song further. Each track is an episode. Throughout Super Heroes Don’t Exist, Malz Monday is a very humble yet confident lyricist who is proving to be well-versed in his craft. The album in totality is about recognizing you’re your own hero and finding the strength to truly support yourself. Malz Monday is definitely a true lyricist, poet and independent. Super Heroes Don’t Exist could easily go down as not only a classic in his discography but really in this specific time period of underground/independent releases. If you seek motivation and a blueprint of how to actualize your dream(s) and goal(s) - this is a good one to start with.
Notable Songs: "Mother Nature," "Circadian Rhythm," "One Day Never Comes" & "Father Time"
“every speech meant to motivate / don’t let the weight of the world make your shoulders shake”
Bronx artist/producer/curator, Buckwild crafts a sonic symphony for some of Hip Hop's most seasoned independents from the underground. His new album, Diggin’ in the Tuff Kong Crates hosts features from the likes of Boldy James, Lord Jah Monte-Ogbon, CRIMEAPPLE, Guilty Simpson, Lauren Mayhem and more. The album seems to be part of a series Buckwild created. In 1998, he released an album called Still Diggin’ and in 2007 released an album called Diggin’ in the Crates. 2022 he’s Diggin’ in the Tuff Kong Crates. If you love sounds that fuse traditional Hip Hop with modern innovation of the art form, spin this one.
Notable Songs: “Savage Monks,” “The Ghost” & “Co-Op”
“I’m so ahead of my time I reminisce about the future”
In all honesty, Jameel Na’im X is one of the best in the game right now. By the time you hear the bar set up and process it he’s already on his 3rd set up; his wit and knowledge is unmatched. His recent release 12:29 in Boston only further shows his versatility in his artistry. This is an album that you’ll love instantly but also will love even more over time. Initially, there was one song I wasn’t too fond of and it was probably because I wasn’t really listening, but it ended up being one of my favorites after the 10th listen. Every release has me in awe when it comes to his lyricism but also how he’s able to create a sacred atmosphere through his music; there are some tracks that have looped mediation samples and even a track that samples what sounds like the Islamic Call To Prayer. And of course, with ease he raps over them as well as trap beats, boom bap beats and soulful beats. 12:29 in Boston is an un-skippable album full of everything that’s important and necessary in a Hip Hop album.
Notable Songs: "Wicker Chair," "Joe Jackson," "Bleek & Beans" & "Bitter Sweet"
“like why was I stressin’ / made it work in time, work for mine / learned workin’ for others wasn’t worth a dime”
Brooklyn native and one of Hip Hop’s chosen, JohnNY UniteUs drops off a 4th quarter album, 4daFree #Sorry4daDelay. As with all his drops JohnNY has a real talent for creating thought-provoking bodies of work that left me pondering and further researching the significance of 4. Throughout the album JohnNY uses the number 4 in multiple of the titles. The number 4 is symbolic of many things that tie into the content and themes presented in 4daFree #Sorry4daDelay such as self-expression and self-fulfillment thru one’s own passion(s) and purpose(s). What echoed after hitting pause on the album was finding peace and stability within one’s self while also making those dreams tangible. If you enjoy music that balances fun, intent, motivation and inspiration then head over to Bandcamp and cop the project.
Notable Songs: “4ward (So Far So Good),” “4orce of Nature” & “You’re Worth A 4Tune / 400 Acres”
“I’m married to the game, I jumped the broom, got eloped / sacrificed my life for this - shit, I took an oath”
Nashville artists Jody Joe and $hrames team up for their album, Jody Ca$h. Throughout the project $hrames provides productions that not only shows off his versatility but also his trap and tropical sonics influences - he always manages to create production that allows the body to move. Alongside $hrames versatile production is Jody Joe bringing raps that boast his mathematician skills as well as his ability to create his own plays and provide for him and his. Jody Joe touches on topics involving an array of women and his connections to them as well as how he’s living out his plans and goals. Jody Ca$h overall, is about Jody Joe getting to the dough, how he does it, who he does it with, what he does with it and how the business ventures will grow.
Notable Songs: "Nonchalant," "Carry On" & "Guns N Butter"
“just because you get it first doesn’t mean the money’s gonna last ya”
New Jersey’s Kameo delivers his album TRYNA TELL U HOW I FEEL exclusively on his site. I found this aspect of his artistry to be really cool because it denotes the faith he has in his art to not need any DSPs but his own weblink. That’s next level independence and faith. As this was my intro to Kameo, I was genuinely blown outta the water. Kameo has this real raw, static, refined out the basement texture to his music that puts me in the mind-frame of an East Coast cypher. You can tell he’s about the knowledge, culture and expression just off the things he raps about, the way he presents his art and displays it to his audience(s). For sure an artist that I’ll be writing more about as the music presents itself. TRYNA TELL U HOW I FEEL is really for Hip Hop.
Notable Songs: “Forever,” “Magnetic” & “The Essence”
“I can’t fuck around I’m really on a mission / cut off a few niggas now shit movin’ quicker”
New Orleans artist, T.Y. delivered his album Live From Choppa City this past December. The album appears to be an ode or homage to his father, B.G. who released albums with similar titles such as, Chopper City and Chopper City In The Ghetto. While T.Y. has been carrying on tradition he’s still able to put his own style and hustle in. Live From Choppa City is an album that explores the current state of hustlin’ in New Orleans from the lens of T.Y. He addresses topics of loyalty, fast life, gettin’ to the money, fake niggas, personal growth and knowing what you’re doing with your hustle. Above all, the album is a body of work that will encourage anyone to get their hustle up and really become You.
Notable Songs: "Can’t Fuck Around," "Fake Niggas," "Bad Mood" & "Loyalty"
"the gin and juice make my dawg so corrupt / ice lay on my tee, I'm sellin' coco and dust"
T.D.E. and aroomfullofmirrors presented an EP, Money Bags that also has a visual film counterpart. The EP comes from the collective “aroomfullofmirrors” that includes: Lyric Michelle, Jrias Law, Hari, Nick Grant, Earlee Riser, Daylyt, BillyMaree, Punch and Ichiban Don. Sonically, Money Bags has a variety of production with thought-provoking content delivered from some top tier artists. What mostly caught my attention with Money Bags, is the actual name of the collective, aroomfullofmirrors and what that means as far as symbolism and music. Whatever is center in a room full of mirrors can be seen from various angles depending on light, perspective and vantage points. Whatever is not center in a room full of mirrors can only be seen from certain angles. Is it an expression of vulnerability while still recognizing the portals around you? Various portals, various angles just reflecting different aspects.
Notable Songs: "Woah," "Nobody Dies" & "WestSide"
“the sauce came from home, came from where I been, sauce came from family, came from where it originated”
D.C. artist Rahiem Supreme and Virginia’s Ohbliv come together for their project, Black Keys Wit Melodies. The Mutant Academy producer provides the perfect 80’s influenced sonics for Rahiem to flow over. In Black Keys Wit Melodies, Rahiem uses a modern beatnik/Gil Scott Heron type delivery; you know, real suave, real fly with it but still with purpose. These two artists make the luxuriously fly and authentic music seem easy. Black Keys Wit Melodies is thought-provoking, witty, uplifting and free in a very retro/vintage demeanor.
Notable Songs: "secret sauce," hot date" & "outro"
“I can’t lose my assignment while the Sun still shining / GOD told me perfect timing”
Palmdale artist Reggie Rare dropped off his first album of the new year, Original Since Birth. The album hosts features from the likes of Smoke DZA, A-F-R-O, Bryan Keon and JAG. What I enjoyed about this album was the story it was telling about time, what perfect timing is and how everyone experiences “perfect timing” differently. Throughout Original Since Birth, Reggie Rare expresses how he’s been authentic since he entered this world and his perseverance. He also speaks on more vulnerable topics that highlight some obstacles and trials he endured while on the route to his purpose(s). If you enjoy what you hear be sure to also spin his newest album, Not To Far Off - which I imagine I’ll be writing about if it’s anything like Original Since Birth.
Notable Songs: “Timely Fashion,” “Sun Down” “Talk To Much” “O.S.B.”
CA$H: The Elegant Fella by Kai Ca$h
“if we goin’ head to head I”m addin’ tags to a toe / so keep it classy fosho”
Brooklyn artist Kai CA$H delivers his latest EP, CA$H: The Elegant Fella. The EP is a very vulnerable project that explores a lot of personal topics that are also universal emotions and thoughts as a genuine artist and creator. The content that the project holds is impressive especially because it’s a 6 song EP but despite the length Kai is able to flow effortlessly over many topics such as mental health and social media, patience with your craft and gift and more. The EP plays like an album and Kai’s delivery is real suave, confident and still humble. Real inspirational and motivational EP for any creative that knows their time is coming and really are just focused on progressing the craft.
Notable Songs: "7 Seater," "No Letting GO," "Round The Way" & "Time Coming"
“I be starving my ego to feed the soul”
Rey Morado and Javion Bishop team up for their EP, God Speech. The first thing that stood out in God Speech is the texture of both their voices individually and together. Both artists on the track have thought-provoking lyrics while using different styles and flows. It was exciting to listen to because they switch each song who starts and who follows. One comes on the track and delivers a dope verse then and the song could be complete off that, but then the other one comes and lays down a verse that takes the song to another realm. The combination of the two is hazardous. Sonically, God Speech sounds raw, unedited energy and intentional and possibly even unconscious conversations with GOD.
Notable Songs: "Good Sh!t," "Spreading Out," "Mazerunner" & "Ill Ones"
"fuck peace, when it's time to survive, I'm with a knife / if it's war then it's eye for an eye, I went in blind"
First things first, Che Noir is a talented poet and bearer of Hip Hop tradition. As far as this recent album, Food For Thought, it was a challenging listen considering how much I enjoyed her previous work. I hear her set-ups, I hear her bars, the thoughts, features, flows and productions but all of those things didn’t quite align in Food For Thought. The production fell a bit short of what I was expecting and also had me nodding off on certain songs - this could be a combination of Che’s monotone texture/delivery and the down-ridden beats. The perseverance aspects of the album are heard and related to, but the album felt colorless, dull, overcast and gray. Overall, Food For Thought wasn’t the best of her work but that doesn't mean I won’t stop listening to what she comes up with next.
Notable Songs: "Eat or Starve" "Ladies Brunch" & "Table For 3"
"I'm obsessed with the game, I even work when I sleep"
BANC is an album from Texas artist Banco who makes it clear he’s accepted his destiny and bound for greatness. BANC, gives a glimpse of what Banco’s commitment to his growth has brought him. Banco speaks on moments that express the new luxury he’s stepped into but there’s still more he aspires for. While this is one of Banco’s best projects yet it’s also unspoken in the album that this is just the brink of what he will create, express and elevate to. A very well arranged album with stories of love, goals, new experiences and the pursuit of growth and greatness.
Notable Songs: "Spilt Liquor" "What About Us" & "Diamond Pumas"
“I’m certified at finding the pain / a ghetto rose, you know I grown in the rain”
Cleveland artist Nuke Franklin allows himself space to express his vulnerabilities and reflections in his new project, Runnin’ With Scissors. Originally, “running with scissors” is an idiom that points towards recklessness, danger and often forbidden acts. A lot of the project is Nuke Franklin reflecting on how he’s been Runnin’ With Scissors his whole life. There are moments where he talks about love and learning to love oneself before you can love others. There are also moments where Nuke speaks on his ego and hurdles as an artist. Runnin’ With Scissors is a very versatile project from content to sonics; somewhere between thought-provoking and being able to dance through it.
Notable Songs: “One Way St.” “OHSHEITGAWDDAMN” &“Hidden Hills”
“in this thing called life, you either pay your dues or you pay the price”
New Orleans/Houston artist Macc releases his album, Macc Files: Case Closed. This is my intro project to Macc and with each listen I’m more impressed. Off the first listen I wasn’t sure of the region/geography he was coming out of but what I did hear was real smooth, real ridin’, playa music. It’s about grindin’, hustlin’, growin’ and aspiring for a luxurious lifestyle by any means. Similar to the title of the album, Macc Files: Case Closed - each track serves as a file about/on Macc. Each file/track is sure to be filled with Macc’s desires, goals and Macc, the mac. An artist with a lot of potential without question. Very determined but still has patience with what he’s creating/aspiring towards.
Notable Songs: “Feelin Like” “Eastside Pimp” & “Champagne & Caviar”
“we gonna criticize that actin’ ‘til they flip the script”
Luxury raps, real cinematic, “I’m at the top of my game enjoying the benefits but still got these pains and gains to get off my chest.” Delaware artists RU$H and Jay Nice come together again for their third installment of their FAMILI series. FAMILI 3 is about the challenges and trials that RU$H and Jay Nice have traversed in order to get them at this point in their journey to where they can celebrate. FAMILI 3 has beautiful classic sounding production coupled with seasoned flows on the mice. Real fly art.
Notable Songs: "Philippe Chow," "Blicks at Hot 9" & "Underground Art Legends Interlude"
"we talk ideas and what happens in the afterlife / to them you public enemy but you surpass the hype"
New York’s Nick Grant is one of the best current lyricists in the game right now. From his individual projects to group collaborations he’s sure to be one to stick out in terms of content and flow. Out of nowhere he dropped off a real funky, ode to love, pre-Valentine’s Day, Welcome To Loveland. Throughout this album Nick Grant expresses his sensuality, singing ability and g-funk influence. This is easily one of his more fun projects in his catalog that represents the type of versatility and variety he can provide and produce as an artist. Welcome To Loveland could easily go down as a timeless project from this current era and maybe even beyond that.
Notable Songs: “Brutal Honesty” “The Simulation” “Love & Other Drugs” & “The Ingredient”
"niggas must've been mad that our crowds are liver / Drakeo stood on 10 toes with a smile against 1000 fighters"
South Central’s one and only Ralfy The Plug speaks on the recent passing of both Stinc Team members, his brother Drakeo The Ruler and Ketchy The Great in his album, Pastor Ralfy 2. The Stinc Team is notorious for creating and expressing a new way to flow and rap out of L.A. while also influencing many of the newer rappers coming out of the region. Ralfy The Plug uses Pastor Ralfy 2 to give his own personal sermons about the life he came from, the life he leads and the influence the Stinc Team has. While many of Ralfy’s raps are braggadocio he’s also a lyricist who has pretty much perfected every hook of every song. Pastor Ralfy 2 displays a more seasoned Ralfy that doesn't shy away from talking about the darkness he’s battling, grieving and also getting to the bag and continuing plays. As long as Ralfy The Plug is around, so will be the legacy of Drakeo The Ruler and Ketchy The Great.
Notable Songs: "The Truth" "Bruce Lee Kick" "Keep Up" & "Being Me"
D U L L by Kareem Ledell Soul Raps 2 by Osbe Chill
“wasted half the time I had on learnin’ how to go all in”
Tennessee artist Kareem Ledell delivers his first offering of the new year, D U L L. Kareem is a poet who is becoming more and more well versed in expressing his vulnerabilities, realities and creative endeavors. D U L L is an EP that assesses Kareem’s present moment and the darkness/dullness he experiences in the midst of creation and expression. It’s easy to listen to Kareem for his laid back demeanor and the patience he has with his flow. D U L L hosts various producers from: Plantif Earf Marow, 9thaGod and Blue Magic Beat Co. as well as a single feature from Nashville’s Ron Obasi. Overall, D U L L contains thought-provoking words and moments that aren’t afraid to acknowledge and sit with the scars of the journey.
Notable Songs: “Endzone (Intro),” “Second Coming,” “Green Lady” & “Lifeline”
“I’mma keep it solid ‘til the day that I depart / but you know I’ll never die I’ll be living thru my art”
Soul Rap 2 is definitely a compilation of raps from the soul. South Central artist Osbe Chill flows over many topics pertaining to the soul. Some of the things he touches on are personal but also universal; from politics, personal flaws, friends, family, generational stories and lineage. Osbe also speaks on things that he’ll have to teach his kids about environments and people. One of the reasons Soul Rap 2 is dope is that Osbe puts his family in the forefront (as shown on the album art) of his life and sheds light upon them in the project. There’s even a moment where Osbe mentions Interscope and that the family image isn't necessarily what they were trying to push. It’s refreshing seeing artists stick to truly what their soul knows is important and possible. Looking forward to any other work he decides to put out.
Notable Songs: "Intro" "I Got Me" "Free Infant Pharaoh" & "No Hard Feelings"
“ain’t a fan in the crowd, niggas came from nothin’”
I’m always at a crossroads when it comes to supporting Philthy Rich. People who of the artist know about his past and his businesses that he runs (as a woman and having friends and family involved with sex work.) One thing I must say is that his independent grind at the level he’s at considering his city and environment he came from is motivational. Motivational Purpose and his last album, Solidified are some of his most polished and seasoned work with top tier content and features. The music are his conversations with GOD and I suppose also to provide motivational purpose for those who listen and are on their grind/hustle as well.
Notable Songs: "Safe," "On Me," "My Everything" & "Leave Me Alone"