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Blog Posts (88)

  • Marlowe 3 by Solemn Brigham x L'Orange

    One thing is immediately clear after pressing play on Marlowe 3, the third installment of emcee Solemn Brigham and producer L’Orange joint project: these guys are having a blast making music together. Marlowe 3, the finest entry in the series to date, is 18 tracks of bouncy, horn-laden instrumentals courtesy of Seattle’s own L’Orange. These colorful soundscapes provide a natural canvas for Solemn’s energetic pen and melodic delivery. He rhymes with a permanent smile, but these tracks aren’t all sunshine. Take album highlight, “My People”, where Solemn details the travails he faced en route to triumph: “Came out the well Rang on the bell Live what I talk, I don’t do what you say, you ain’t been where I fell” Songs like “Light Trip,” “Past Life,” “Hold the Crown,” and “Clarity“, highlight Solemn’s hook skills and L’Orange’s soulful sample chops that manage to sound fresh and dusty at once. Solemn thankfully owns mic duties on most songs, but a few friends join the bar fest. Guests include Blu, Joell Ortiz, and Deniro Farrar. Each delivers a slick verse, but none steal the show; his growing confidence as an emcee allows Solemn to go toe to toe with the greats. After dropping their debut in 2018, the titular duo remain in impressive form. Solemn is aware of the rapper-producer chemistry that got them here, a positive sign for those of us hoping these two continue their dynamite run: “They said I’d never be here without L’Orange I told them facts could never do me no harm” Released: October 28, 2022 words by Alec Siegel

  • My Life Iz A Movie by RJ Payne x Stu Bangas

    Lazy, settled, stagnant are words that would never describe RJ Payne. The Brooklyn born MC, formerly known as the battle rap veteran Reign Man, has dropped his 5th full length project of 2022. In the last several years he has been one of the most active hip hop artists out there with a constant flurry of mixtapes and features. His approach to his career has been just as hungry and aggressive as his rhyme style. My Life Iz A Movie fully produced by Stu Bangas does indeed feel cinematic, it's a concept album that takes us through a few days in the life of RJ Payne as he slides through New York City and the surrounding boroughs. Stu Bangas, one of today's most consistent underground Hip Hop producers, does a great job of giving My Life Iz A Movie a cohesive sound, and keeping us engaged throughout the entire project. The legendary DJ Doo Wop also makes a guest appearance on the album as a tour guide who occasionally provides facts and stories about the various locations in RJ Payne's journey. It's a solid concept and executed well, one really gets a good sense of who RJ Payne is by the conclusion of the album. He's one of the best doing it these days and makes the craft look easy. This is a concept that could wear thin after a few songs but his wordplay, storytelling, and the motivational gems woven in between it all make for an engaging listen. One of the best example is on "Central Park Vibes" over Stu Bangas' sparse drums and piano keys he raps: "Rolling up the reefer, time is just beating faster Met this cat named Peter, he eager to be a rapper He recognized me as soon as he saw me Started smiling, and I gave homie dap, it's a beautiful story He said his time running out, I said N**** look at me, I just blew up at 40" It's never too late in general folks and it's never too late to get familiar with RJ Payne. He made it to the table late but he's gonna be here for a while. Released: October 13, 2022 words by Monk

  • Tales Of The Town: The Album

    It’s rare when multiple individual specialists come together to take aim at a singular target, but when it does happen you get things like The Dream Team, the Apollo 11 crew, The Vienna Philharmonic, and now the Tales Of The Town Compilation! Presented by the Hella Black Podcast (Oakland’s Abbas Muntaqim and Delency Parham) the album pairs together some of the best talent the Bay Area has to offer. From LaRussell, Guapdad 4000, Rexx Life Raj, to Jane Handcock, G-Eazy, Lil Bean and more - the whole roster showed up and gave all-star performances. At 11 tracks this project is concise, precise, powerful, intentional, and inspirational! Tales Of The Town is the soundtrack of a podcast that bears the same name. The latter is a deep dive into the history of the black presence in Oakland, CA, from the Great Migration all the way up into Gentrification. Delency and Abbas use narration, clips, and special guests to give us listeners a play by play description of everything that is black Oakland. The album sticks with that theme and delivers an array of proud pro black slaps. “Off the slave ship we was inhaling them blues/ riding through the West like I’m Huey P. Newton,” Koran Streets casually flows on the song "Black Jacobins," giving you an example of the historic and hometown pride intertwined throughout the project. A lot of compilations miss the mark by randomly combining artists and producers hoping name recognition alone carries the project. Not here. This album was carefully curated, performers paired together like fine wine and Michelin star dishes. But maybe the most important thing about the album is that all proceeds go to the Peoples Programs of Oakland, a true example of the community taking care of itself. Each artist, producer, engineer, etc donated their time and skill sets for the greater good. Every time I replayed the project it sounded even better knowing that each stream was going directly into the community. From community programs for children to food and care packages for the houseless, Tales Of The Town will go down in history as one of the most influential and important pieces of art to come out of California. RELEASED: October 21, 2022 words by Flynt Nixon

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