"Illmind, usually (but not always) stylized as !llmind, has been one of the fastest rising hip-hop producers of the last two years. His resume goes all the way back to 2003, providing tracks for everyone from Akrobatik to Little Brother to KRS-One, but his collaboration with Skyzoo on "Live From the Tape Deck" was one of the best albums of 2010. The album put both men on the map to a far greater degree than either had been previously, a carefully conceived shot of adrenaline in the arm of hip-hop to remind us all what could truly be achieved by a great rapper and producer both on their A game. Now more than ever hip-hop artists are calling him up like De La Soul, but if you're not a top notch emcee, he's got an answering machine that can talk to you. Hip-Hop's instrumental only albums have always been in this niche where for better or worse major labels are not going to consider them marketable, minor labels are not going to consider them profitable, and 9 times out of 10 they come out as white label promos or bootleg DJ service MP3 packs. Official joints like Dan the Automator's "Instrumentalyst" or Evidence's "Yellow Tape Instrumentals" do occasionally break through, but even then they can in part or whole simply be the beats they made for other people's hits. Then you have the reverse effect with something like J Dilla's "Donuts," where what could and probably should have existed as short snippets of his genius ended up being looped by everyone (with or without permission) for their own rap songs. "
"IAME chose an unfortunate rap name. On the surface, it's a great idea: It looks like a tag, it's short, and it makes the statement "I am me." The way it is spelled, however, means that most people mispronounce it "lame" since an uppercase "i" and lowercase "l" look the same. After having to explain to the millionth person that his name was IAME not Lame, he decided to have some fun with the mispronunciation and title his latest album "Lame." He plays with the concept throughout the album, making fun of himself. The Portland, Oregon rapper is part of the Sandpeople and Oldominion crews. "Lame" was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the website that lets you raise money for a project. IAME was able to raise almost $3,000 to record the album through his fanbase, which shows how supportive they are. I was struck by that $3,000 price tag, both because it is not an insignificant amount of money for an independent artist to raise, and because "Lame" sounds like it cost a hell of a lot more to record and produce. It is an ambitious album. Producer Smoke M2D6 layers live instruments and singing over dusty loops to create a vibrant sound. "
Miles Jones :: Runaway Jones :: MB3 Records as reviewed by Mike Baber
"I've reviewed enough underground hip-hop to know that most everything written in album press releases needs to be taken with a grain of salt. After reading countless erroneous claims of artists who are supposedly scholars of hip-hop bringing a unique perspective and sound to the genre, it's hard for me to really get excited about an album from an up-and-coming rapper until I've actually heard the music. Thus, when I first heard of Miles Jones, a "rising star in the Toronto hip-hop scene" and the recipient of several Independent Music Awards over the past five years, I was slightly skeptical of his actual lyrical ability. It took only a few songs, though, to put to rest my initial doubts. I'll admit I'm a sucker for anything that brings back the golden age vibe of the 90s, but at the same time, I recognize that the hip-hop game is evolving and that artists need to branch out in order to create a new and distinct sound. Miles Jones does exactly this, blending the old school with the new school and creating an album that has elements of electronic, pop, and R&B music while still respecting the boom bap feel of hip-hop's roots. "
"Few rappers reach an iconic status without having tasted concrete stardom. Kool G Rap is one of them, an undeniable influence on rap music since the late 1980s. A new Kool G Rap album is therefore a significant event, especially since the last official full-length project didn't make it past the preview EP "Half a Klip." In terms of anticipation and case history "Riches, Royalty & Respect" may not be "Detox," but it is a welcome vital sign from a living legend. On the face of it, "Riches, Royalty & Respect" delivers the goods. "In Too Deep" conjures up the familiar portrait of the artist as a cold-blooded, cocaine-slinging hustler entrapped by the trap. Producer DJ Supa Dave (not to be confused with Supa Dave West) sets the scenery to music by digging deep into symphonic soul. "Sad" does justice to the concept of incorporating vocal samples into verses, G Rap's street sermon carried forward by a Supa Dave track that burns with the passion of vintage blues and soul. The two also team up for one of Nathaniel Wilson's most autobiographical songs to date, "Pages of My Life" (like the majority of the tracks regrettably only two verses long). "
Passalacqua :: Passalacqua :: Bandcamp.com as reviewed by Emanuel Wallace
"What happens when two Michigan-based emcees come together, eat Little Caesar's Hot-N-Ready pizzas, drink Miller High Life. wear masks of Tom Waits and Bootsy Collins and then decide to make some music? Well, you'd have Passalacqua, a duo comprised of Mister and Blaksmith (1/4 of the hip-hop/spoken word collective, Cold Men Young). As a result of this pairing, we, the listener, are on the receiving end of a six-song EP with production from Dr. B and some additional vocals from Alicia Martin and James Linck of House Phone. Even though I mentioned the above brands under my own volition, I'm secretly hoping that I get a case of the "Champagne of Beers" shipped directly to my door. It's highly unlikely, but I suppose a fella can dream, right? However the EP does start with a track named after the pineapple flavor of a notable brand of pop. "Passalacqua" opens with "Pineapple Faygo" and "Bad Grammar." The former starts with some slow brass before being backed up by a drum break and finally the impressive lyrics. We find the guys being resistant to any pressure to be that suave, ladies man-type of dude."
ScriliCON :: 2 Steps Left of Center :: Bandcamp.com as reviewed by Patrick Taylor
"God bless Bandcamp. It's sort of like this generation's Macola Records, an easy-to-use device that lets unsigned artists get their music out to the public. Sure, there's a lack of quality control on Bandcamp. but it allows anyone with a decent computer to become a recording artist, and it allows artists an easy way to get their music out there. Scrilicon is rappers Scrilla V and John?Doe, two rappers that hail from the Scrilicon (ie Silicon) Valley. John?Doe has recently put out some projects with Indiana rapper Sankofa as the Silversmiths. Scrilla V is a longtime hip-hop fan who has been writing raps since the 90s and decided to return to the mic and focus on his music. They've teamed up with several indie beatmakers for this album. They try out a variety of styles, from the trippy backpack of "Crescendo and Cascade" to the club rap of "Shoulder Sway." They spend a good portion of the album doing sub-Waka street rap, a look that doesn't fit their rap styles. Neither Doe nor Scrilla V have the necessary menace or mouth-breathing swagger to make tracks like "Wile Out" or "Where My Dollaz At?" work."
"His first album "Not Quite 90 in the Head" came out in 2001 and he's been making cameo appearances on albums by Midwestern artists like AreCee, Coolzey and Tack-Fu in the time span from then 'til now. On the other hand "bringing nothing but the raw" implies something memorable, something so dope that listeners would immediately know him without any explanation required, something undeniable and unforgettable. Perhaps his press kit makes the point better than I will with this statement though: "Angle has opened for many hip hop artists including Atmosphere, Eyedea, Blueprint, Brother Ali, Murs, Vast Aire, Pigeon John, Prince Po, Qwel, Mr. Lif, and more." I've seen at least a half dozen of those names do live shows within 10 miles of where I live and can't remember anything about Angle from a single one of them. That makes Angle the textbook definition of "opening act" - the guy that's not a star that's there to kill time 'til the guys who are show up. Now the vibe one gets from Angle's artwork and the title of his album is that he's a "Lil' Different" in the same way that Tyler, the Creator is a little different. "
"The baldheaded rapper who badly declares that he's "not famous enough to have my music found on LimeWire" is nowhere near as obscure as he thinks. The RR radar first picked up his blip in 2006 with the release of "Old Man Winter," which for this site and a lot of his listeners put Lancaster, California on the map. Going back to his childhood Cleen has considered himself an outsider in his own community, a rapper where people would rather be rockers, and to some extent this attitude has carried over to his hip-hop career as well. There's a wry sort of joke in Cleen's folksy lyricism when he notes he's not a superstar, yet won't do any of the corny things that would propel him to a higher level of fame in the genre generally or mainstream music scene over all. If that's what he wanted he'd be working with DJ Drama and Waka Flocka instead of rapping over Elephant Gerald. The name may sound like a circus act, but the beats on "Ain't No Jive" aren't clowning around. Cleen might not be the obvious choice as the vanguard of hip-hop, but the sentiments he expresses would undoubtedly be echoed by any better known industry veteran like Chuck D, KRS-One or Rakim. "
Logik Dat Lad :: New School Cool :: LogikDatLad.com as reviewed by Matthew 'Matt G' Gutwillig
"The buzz generated from a carefully crafted independent release has catapulted many hip-hop artists into the limelight. Artists like 50 Cent and Drake have inked million dollar deals with major labels based on the critical acclaim and popularity their independent mixtapes achieved on the streets and the internet. The reputation earned on the grassroots level provided the perfect barometer for mainstream appeal even before their debut albums sold millions of copies. Though these rappers appeared to be overnight success stories, the reality is that this level of recognition only occurred after years of tireless work in their respective cities. Since 2003, Canadian emcee Logik Dat Lad has been grinding it out with his group Cut Throats, and his debut EP "New School Cool" is a product of his own dedication to the craft. Released in April off the Toronto-based rapper's website, Logik is giving away his EP as a free download and has incorporated social networking to receive feedback from his fans. Even with technology in place, independent success is usually achieved when the artist has enough originality to distinguish himself from the competition and strike a chord with the listeners."
"'All good white rappers except for Eminem are jewish,' suggests one caption the computer screen displays when consulting online search engines. Fact is that Jewish heritage is not something that is instantly apparent and that few Jewish American MC's care to raise the subject. There is therefore a speculative element to any list of 'Jewish rappers.' Qualified candidates include the Beastie Boys, 3rd Bass' MC Serch, Ruthless Records signees Blood of Abraham, brothers Ill Bill and Necro, original white nerd rapper MC Paul Barman, Wu-Tang Killa Bee Remedy, accomplished underground personel like Mr. Eon, Edan or Eligh, and relative newcomers like Kosha Dillz, Invincible, Bekay, Soul Khan, Iron Solomon, Mac Miller or Rabbi Darkside. Who gives a damn about origin, heritage, ethnicity, and all those vague typifications of human beings anyway? I do, occasionally, because I think finding out about a person's background plays a part in understanding him or her. Cultural upbringing defines us only to some extent, and the preconceived notions others have about it often prevent them from seeing our true self, but knowing what we are can help us and others understand who we are."
It's time for another new edition of The Hip-Hop Shop. Episode #126 is called From Japan to New Jerusalem. We span the globe to bring you music by everybody from DJ Toshi to Keith Murray to Venomous2000. For compliments or feedback hit me on Twitter @angrymarks. Artists please send your podsafe music and advertising requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening and remember to share the show with a friend and tell them to check it out every Tuesday on RapReviews.com!
* Elemental Zazen - Words That I Write * Venomous2000 f/ DJ Priority - Drop of Venom * DJ Toshi f/ Abraham, BURNTmd, Keith Murray, Rachit - Tsunami Relief * SKAM2 f/ Low Life - Stand Like a Man * Rockwell Knuckles - Baking Soda * Savant a/k/a Stanstro - Fresh She Is
Trae Tha Truth's 3rd Solo Album Drops on June 28th
Houston, TX ~ After three long years of mix tapes, touring and keeping the music news busy with music, videos, cartoons and lawsuits, Houston's Trae Tha Truth will finally release his much anticipated third solo album, "Street King" (ABN Entertainment/Prez Entertainment/Fontana) on June 28th.
Album features include Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa, Tha Game, Big Boi, Lupe Fiasco, Wyclef, Wale and Lloyd, as well member of Trae's ABN Gang. Production duties are handled by Vdon, Drumma Boy, Mr Rogers, Mr Inkredible, Cyfyre and Rockaway Productions.
The promo run will include a week-long media run in New York (June 20th - 24th); featuring a live show at SOBs on Monday, June 20th hosted by Low Key from YouHeardThatNew.com, an album listening session at the Fontana offices on Tuesday, June 21st, an album release concert at Houston's HOB on June 28th, featuring a live band and performances by friends Wacka Flocka, Jadakiss, Lupe Fiasco and Yung Joc and shows all over the south.
Follow us on Twitter via @TraeABN and @RapPublicist.
1st and foremost, alot of the sites recieving this email have been long time supporters of our music here at Monstaville and we truely appreciate that. We hope to continue building a strong working relationship with all of you. As we always do, we offer the same support back through our home site which has a huge following: www.408inc.com and covers the entire South Bay Area.
On June 7th we are back with a New Release titled FACETIME (a group album: Tha Critic, Playa Rae & Trey C) which will be distributed by Empire Distribution (www.empiredistribution.com) / 408INC DIGITAL (www.408inc.com) and Monstaville of course. The album features Royalty, Smigg Dirtee, Natureboy Rowe, Stik Gilatine & C-Rena. It will be priced to win at $5.99 via iTunes and other online retailers. Hard copies include a 45min DVD and are $9.99 via www.408incshop.com - June 21st is the date to lock in.
With all that said, here is the second official leak off the album titled "SMILE" featuring Trey C, Playa Rae & Tha Critic. Production by Rob Base of Hush Em Up Productions. Mixed by Brycen10ial at the HotBoxx & Mastered by Justin Weis at Trakworx.
After years of standing by as a spectator, a fan and avid lover of Hip-Hop, Natural, also known in many circles as Nasty Nat, felt it was no longer enough just to listen. A writer his entire life, Natural had produced various forms of storytelling through many different mediums. From novel writing to screenplays, poetry classes to philosophy groups, Nat always felt the need to share his personal experiences along with the people around him. It wasn't until 2009 that he finally recognized hip-hop as his true calling.
Born in Boston, Natural split time between his household in Milton and his cousins residence in Dorchester. The oldest of five in a close knit Irish-American neighborhood, Natural was responsible for his siblings from a very young age. He credits the high level of responsibility his parents entrusted to him along with his entire family's unwavering support in all avenues of artistic creativity as major reasons for his progression as an artist.
In late 2009 Natural began the beginning stages of recording. He started small with a cheap mic and industry beats in his bedroom. He slowly started to show recorded material to people he knew would give it to him straight, and the high level of positive response gave him the final push of confidence he needed.
He contacted Peter "Needy" Needham, a friend of his cousin, who had majored in audio production in college and created the "Stay Puft Productions" group. Within weeks, Natural began to write and record original material over these beats, and the two began a blueprint for the future--It was here they found a Natural fit.
Nat's music invites listeners into his own world, one guided by family and the close bonds within his small circle. His words are marked with a realistic portrayal of himself and feed off of his surroundings in the small city of Boston--his story is just one of the many tales shared through his music.
Despite his suburban background, Nat's deep routed connections with the inner city have allowed him lines of sight from both sides of the tracks. Employments and experience range from his current position at an inner city public school all the way to working with troubled youth groups over in Ireland. Bartending and bouncing in some of the roughest areas of the city while also holding down jobs in some of the trendiest spots downtown. Either way you spin it, Nat draws from a plethora of experiences and carries a unique ability to connect with many different demographics of people.
On June 21st Natural will be dropping "The Bartender". In his first release, Natural shares stories from his personal life and the lives of others, lending people a voice to confront the harsh realities and problems we all face on a daily basis. Nat also leaves room for the good times shared with the fast living collective of family and friends around him. The 16 track release encompasses life from all angles: Happiness, struggle, love, hate, employment, stress, the illegal dealings of the underworld, corruption, politics, sports, police brutality and community. It is an uncompromising vision from an artist that has finally found his calling. His style is a mix of aggressive wordplay, sharp lyricism and heavily sarcastic whit that creates a deeply honest and passionate vibe. Armed with a keen sense of self awareness and an unapologetic flow, Nat epitomizes confidence with the microphone. Hip-Hop has a new voice, and Natural's uninhibited honesty and no holds barred approach refuses to be silenced. Listen up and watch the rest unfold.