By SUNEZ [ #SkillastratorLO #PowerWrite ]
Remember I’ve been named SkillastratorLO. How many pages have I boosted and profiled my illegal publishings on? Branded as I am, damn, a Polo swordsman, sacred words crumbled in the Lo cookie, the quarters of construction. Two parts Knowledge of Self to Love & Loyalty, another, that Original Creativity and one part left to terrorize the shark biters. #RespectFAKE, spit on your USPA!
See I analyze the way eyes roll through the words, the faints in their sentence and the lean in their paragraphs. It’s all on how I know the letters. Letters learned to trap you in patterns of revealed emotions. The ones selected form words, words with adhesive vowels that can’t be broken and consonants of consistency that can’t be redacted without refraction. They spill emotions without emojis fronting. We know a bitch laughing at us or a comrade with us,
without them laughing out loud.
So remember, I skillastrate words into portraits of perhaps, that is the “What ifs?!” inspired in young warriors to build victories our people ain’t seen yet—
Well now. Play songs filled with ol’ time blues and lyrics that can be quoted as my own bards against the gentrifyiers of my life, for the warriors I train with might or my children I raise right. Righteous yet the palette I share of works try to best balance a like and dislike rooted in Hip Hop’s core principle of Original Creativity with my other two principles of Knowledge of Self and Love & Loyalty. To merge it with an analysis that nods to those that just are technically supreme. When they all blend, never betraying each other, this Real is born. Whether saluted or criticized, all analyzed and listened with hours to surmise, may they be an appreciation to all the music of our culture that fights more than just sales.
Original mixtapes had excellent works and willing they are preludes to full long players because Illa Ghee is a hardcore battle MC whose wordplay grows every verse, God Preme of New Rochelle is a lyricist with perfect tempo, Da Villins are the next Medina truth Sean P put his word on and J-Live only makes strong insightful and concept dynamic albums. For now, their original mixtapes mixtapes are powerfjl primers.
5. DRO PESCI – When I Blow Up Don’t Show Up IV
The category I don’t want to see Pesci anymore in. His skills and stylistics are ready for an official LP catalog. For now his mixtapes are potent as fuck.
4. WILLIE WAZE – Lexiconz
One of the best LPs I heard last year, exciting, vibrant, technique dazzling and concept filled, was Waze’s debut double LP. Lexiconz is the prelude that is loaded with enthusiasms.
Gemz gathers ideas daily and applies the most challenging items learned. So every next release is an exciting journey in rugged edutainment. The last LP is a necessary crate of the decade. Listen to this and you’ll know the next LP, The God That Forgot Himself is going to be special.
2. TRAGEDY KHADAFI – The Auraport
One of the greatest lyricists ever who perfected and evolved the militant street lyricist, this compilation with new tracks refresh us. Do then knowledge to my #ArtOnArt salute and exclusive interview with the God HERE
1. NAPOLEON DA LEGEND – Steal This Mix tape 1 & 2 (Bonus: Legendary (mixed by DJ Duke), features on DJ Bazarro, General Steele & ES-K and DJ Joe Bodega LPs along with his JCole Doss track, “E.ColeLie”)
An MC of the year candidate without an LP , NDL solidified his very real theme of the peoples voice of skilled insight and revolutionary militancy with the STM series. With montage videos over smart beat jacks, there are a wealth of topics, concepts and techniques that make him an essential MC in this Invisible Renaissance. Do the knowledge to my #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review of Legendary HERE & a build on “E.Cole.Lie” HERE
Sa-Roc, Boog Brown, The Enforcers (El da Sense & K-Def) and A-F-R-O POLO (Afro & Marco Polo) and Tone Chop & Frost Gamble all released strong short works with no filler, all filtered real that are just as strong as the 3 below:
4. BUGSY DA GOD – The Element of Surprise
Bugsy is militant, developing more subjects with the ideal militant theme as militant disciple of PR Terrorist. Bugsy and Pachino are in a prime that is leading to a flood. Load up.
3.RAPSODY – Crown
A word juggler, Rapsody, with 9th Wonder and the crew is one of the most empowered MCs and really is great at stuttered tempos, vocal cuts, pauses and phrases that lets her glide from conversation with us to black out barring. The 9th led production has some intriguing twists and re-arrangements that keep the enthusiasms strong.
2. ESTEE NACK & AL.DIVINO – Triple Black Diamonds
Estee spoke supremely of al.divino, an MC/producer talent with a a near baritone and tracks with a violent noir flick thematic sense to it. Estee rhymes charged off all this with his best plush scenery and at all costs hustler ethos at full peak. A long EP, it’s the best last record of the year.
Sahdeeq is a master with appeal that deepens the better you listen. His tempos are never wrong, his clarity is always there and the more he rhymes the more ideas he’s sharing. These intriguing combinations for these short works are exciting as his own experimentation with variations and topics are quickly proven a fruitful path.
Standards of the media radio and record industry have made MCs of respectable talents and bad material POTENTIAL GOATs. The Slaughterhouse MCs all released work and excepting Ortiz, Budden still overrated, Royce and Kxng Crooked prevailed lyrically but generally chose beats out of the snare coffins. The young MCs from Chance, Isaiah Rashad, Mick Jenkins, Vic Spencer, Dave East and AB Soul are generally overrated though they are lyrically skilled. Unfortunately, musically and thus thematically, they become way softer exuding a more tough beta male oxymoronity with some of the weakest music that really wouldn’t pull two grits out of the most auto-tuned crooner. Run the Jewels constantly use a backing music of sillyfied funk that makes their respectful lyricism suitable for the new Bed Stuy while J.Cole is on pace to be the titled GOAT that never was ever close to be. Mediocrity is real Hip Hop when the promoted is all you hear so a few rhymes, sold by Jigga can do it.
As with all writing arts, MCs really grow with age, a lesson seen in this decade of the Invisible Renaissance. Bad Seed, J-Zone, Thanos, Termanology, Kenyattah Black, Ransom, Njeri Earth, Truth, Real Prophecy, Kxng Crooked (his duo LP with Statik only as his solo LP was beat diluted), Automatik Greatness, Mikey D, Smoovth, Hus Kingpin, Bankai Fam and Rustee Juxx & Kyo Itachi, C-Rayz Walz all made strong Boom Bap efforts all could and most likely will invade the following list as years to come. Vinnie Paz’ latest is excellent beat wise and has some powerful issues addressed. However, the appropriated ideas specifically my 5% family dialect and insight detract the sincerity and intelligence too often in his career including here. Czarface and Banks & Steelz experimented with the former having greater results while Puba and Kool Keith proved they still rhyme potent in the said styles they’ve carved for decades. K-Rino overdosed with seven good albums when he could be have made one impeccable one. Still, it reflects the empowerment of independent music making and the depth it gave the year…
50. MEYHEM LAUREN – Piatta D’Oro (Bonus: Precious Metals)
Ghost destroyed him and no one cares. But I do. Every last Meyhem album is that work. Clever adjectives, precise word phrasing, powerful vocal timbre, clarity at all speeds and a viciousness that includes excellent beat choices. But there’s no honesty in anything I can write if every last song with grafted Ghostface isn’t deleted. Truth is I don’t #RespectFAKE and as Trump muddles through his way, that rugged individualist way, I know my way don’t listen to that so say. That principles only exist when we battle rap against the supposed losers who didn’t get these tv, radio, media spots and subsequent sales, tours and incredible connections but never in our own creative reality of #OriginalCreativity. Bronson booted, Lauren is a powerful MC who really can rhyme on all things. Piatta is filled with incredibly thick bangers that include Large Pro and Muggs while Fraud on Precious lays respectable work. Lauren isn’t as diverse as say that 40 plus track Self Induced Illness and he lavishes extra in the frivolity of fame yet still loads enough quotables and flows to keep me working through the Bronson skipping.
Ideal perfected Boom Bap in all its proper glory is the story of the best LPs this year and the secret to this Invisible Renaissance’s greatness. With new MCs that have more to grow but have all the principles, models and burgeoning skill to reach the levels of the prior greats. Today, to see those greats still great and champion and present the brothers that can make strong works in the future is a joy. Demented Logic is one of those LPs. It’s all in the execution of the brother’s intensity, the capsules of pain and the presentation and aid into the world of lyricism from the great Tragedy Khafafi. Today’s Queens cipher via Goblin studios is the deepest in Hip Hop and this is a real posse led LP. Easily Crippled needs more verses to reveal his depth but on DL his cryptic imagery is powerfully introduced.
48. APATHY – Handshakes With Snakes
Intense insights and bristling battle bars are what Apathy brings. The beats are thickly crisp, with living arrangements, the guests shine from Spit Gemz to OC, the verses admonish commercialization and uphold the art with technique displays and precise flows.
47. JIGMASTAS – The Resurgence
The Dark Ages jigged alotta motherfuckers. 2000s, ten years that buck fittied music into an underground with gentrifying whites before they took Brooklyn and sellout coons as their higher-ranking comrades paraded the radio with the new die-finitions of Hip Hop. White auctioneers talking fast and silly with trailer trash angst and mommy hatred issues while our smartest brothers hustled to win with savage hood bars for the people and college degrees working behind the scenes. When Kriminul and DJ Spinna say Resurgence, it means something to me. They rock as they always have with souled jazz drums with keys, horns and synth notes, long harmonized choruses and clear spoken battle bars. A short LP they even wild out on the frenetic “The Outfit” as Kriminul takes on a tour of his realness. Packed with instrumentals, Spinna’s excellence is spotlighted while Kriminul’s necessity on them is then understood.
No strong era of Hip Hop is so without wealth if beatmakers steeped in thick boom and snapping bap that inspires MCs’ hardcore rage to sum up albums greater than any lone parts. Kyo Itachi and Venom are just those beatmakers to fit an MC as Blaq who is used to the GOATs (i.e. DJ Premier). The tracks are filled with gutted guitar plucks, sweeping horns and funky keys over diverse drums that are always room filling. Blaq continues his career of chest thumping declarations of the realness the type of work cued to bench pressing. Deadlifts continue on Mad Screwz with Comet. You don’t need it then you’re dangerously weak.
45. RAY VENDETTA & CALVERT – Calculated Vendettaz
Another tough work from the most prolific MC out of UK’s Triple Darkness crew. There is depth of struggle and militancy we always know to co from Vendetta. Calvert’s traaaacks are a clean, crisp Boom but the Bap isn’t as gritty as their signature works. Instead, it moves from funky to thumping. When it’s at thumping (“Streetfame”), Vendetta scripts concrete with all the color contrast and the violent blasts. When it’s funky, he glides and double times in styles (“Glass Hearts”). As Vendetta’s catalog extends, we are being blessed with a deepening diversity.
Dominican bar deliverer, Corona/Flushing spitta. There are MCs in today’s NYC you play to focus the reps, target the punches and perfect the moves. Nutso been that and when I’m at a show and he arrives I know the money spent wasn’t thrown away. Nutso is one of this decade’s raw contributions. With Domingo, the need for consistent production–not good beats as he always has but a large collection for him to explore his ideas–begins. There is an enjoyment, a real love that prevails when Nutso rhymes. He really dives into the booth. He really is excited to grab the mic next at a show. This exuberance makes his recorded work mere reminders of that. A love that keeps an attacked genre’s most core essence alive. He’s the ideal posse contributor but the future is him alone as on the horn snapping “Scrappin” where he glides along. So many fucking rappers you gotta listen closely to an MC all the other MCs respect. Domingo, one of the veteran greats, knows so he helps us hear it better.
43. LEX NYRE – Necessary
Lex is an MC that sees the eyes in our ears. With his words embedded engulfing basslines and live drums, he doesn’t rhyme at us but to us and lives with us. Representing the “working class struggle,” wonderfully influenced by A Tribe Called Quest (“How I Met My Wife”), the Boricua honors Queens, the borough and the sisters, the struggles of the misters and all the trials that cause more than mere blisters. From “Daily Events” to the title track he has a distinct theme that is refreshing beyond mere battle bars. Musically, the tracks are completely thick, room filling and innovative from “Everybody Like” to the vocal live chimed “All His Life” to the energetically horned “MC Flex 101.” Necessary is an inspirational record that thumps.
Boom Bap is the fucking core ideals of Hip Hop music into a compact definition. The most militant and progressive artists will expand the parameters and even blur the perception yet the principle remains. Original creativity that performs through rhymed verses through repeatedd percussive rhythms. Beneficence is an ideal example of the artist that stays within the parameters yet excels within it. His recruited connections catapult the work as the incredible Chubb Rock or the Estee Nack patois’d chorus. Still his ideas as on “Each One Teach One” or the constantly flowing verses as on “Smooth Hardcore” or “Forever More” make his mastery of the formula more than the sum of its parts and a righteous addiction.
41. MASTA ACE – The Falling Season
After the gross mistake of having Nas (#RespectFAKE) lead off an interesting LP based on the concept of a flashbreak to the high school days of Medina, 80s to 90s, all is peace to me. The cleverness is something Ace can easily pull off as his career lengthens his experimentation increased. A strong driving bass break on “Young Black Intelligent” signify the insights that are distinct commentary on those times. The tracks are not wildly innovative yet all in high quality with all the verses embedded in the storyboard making them worth the listen. Ace doesn’t make anything bad and now his LPs are expansions of concepts no larger labels would ever allow.
On Raw Alkaline Water, he filters the tempo to stay at a slow tempo that let’s the electrolytes of the bass grooves pop, the snare to be absorbed and reloaded whilst the said MC carefully battle bars or builds. The greater the MC is the factor in which are the most potent and J-Live on “Opponents” reveals such but the diversity is exciting with the drums rolling and skipping on “Floral “Walking”” for Georgia Anne Muldrow’s chants. The minimalism is also an understanding Gensu has as he draws out great verses from Tri-State and Conway with just a select Bluesy lick. Even the outro “Peace” bangs making the instrumental LP version coveted.
Gensu Dean also prevails because of the challenge of taking on an MC stylist that doesn’t fit any consistent mold. Vessey, a dynamic stylist who alters his voice timbre and pitch, stalls and elongates pronunciation and dives into chants and choruses off verse with little delay. On Whole Food, Gensu keeps up with him with consistent boom but the melodics fluctuate and he makes his own hooks like the “Chooo!” chant through a mean rock guitar riff on “Let’s Go (Move)” or let’s the bass live and thump along with Vessey as on the title track. Vessey also can make beats and his The Gift is filled with heavy dominating snares and a refreshed crunchiness.
39. FOUL MONDAY – I Hate Monday
A pure, charismatic rising talent…do the knowledge to my #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review HERE
38. CODENINE & PURPOSE – Below Sumerian Skies
Tragic Allies are the deepest crew of in-the-pocket MCs. Hard times struggling, battle prowess and worded portraits of their Lynn, Mass through an upper mid tempo retooling of classic breaks (“Polar Nights”) and newfound rhythm tracks (“Unspoken Of”). Beautiful ambience created (“Forces of Nature”) or a rough stride fortified (“Staff of Moses”). Code Nine never loses intensity, is fired the fuck up at being woke and every song is versed as his last. More to be said and some #ArtOnArt in there too but let me enjoy this a lot more…
Concepts and the rest of the room is filled with bump, thumps and clumps of bass, drums and many melodies. 9th Wonder is the ideal post-peak era musician who, influenced by the legends, appears derivative in successful executions of Pete Rocks thick drums, Premo’s addictive snapping tempos and RZA’s soulful blends of unpredictable grit. Yet through his catalog and over a half a thousand productions later he has a special illness that is rewarded with deeper listens. He is a musician that deserves time as all great musicians fighting to express after the said golden era and into a genres Dark Ages, the era when the commercial dilution is most devastatingly extreme. And one of the MCs he used as a supreme instrument during the Dark Ages, then 2000s, was Murs.
Murs is a west coast Black brother that knows the Brown, comments on the gangs, has plenty of tales on the females and is a sincere commentator and daringly so. His cadence is perfect, achieving rapid fluidity keeping little air space between bars. His clarity is powerful without losing inflections and accents that place his home. As an MC he is the epotome of a subtle master. The entire Murs & 9th catalog is a rugged treasure that’s worth going back for. The consistency of this record is no surprise yet still amazing.
36. SULTAN MIR & RECOGNIZE ALI - Too Visible To See
Repeat the right drum and let a brother speak on it all. We’re saying Boom Bap cause we love a rhythm we got caught into, usually something the distant whites indulging can find us with. And since we rebel we forget we love the shit when it’s done precisely like Webster could script it. Word is bond Ali, maybe we don’t see. Let’s do the knowledge. Young Black man, Islamic dialects hitting peaks of seeing he’s the God and he battle bars against the fake, against the tides that rise against his struggles to succeed and for the precision of the verse’s fluidity. The vibe is supreme on “Praise Due U.G.,” explained on “Into My Soul” and skill distilled on “Just Rhyme.” Skills that are layered by internal writing and syllabic matching through a sinister voice that remains calm in increasing speeds. Sultan Mir’s production is out of the traditions rooted on RZA and popped by Kanye West, formatted and filtered by 9th Wonder and bluesed by Bronze Nazareth. Mir’s understanding is a clean pure drum work and beautiful soul crate highlights allowing vocals to puzzle into. You ought to do the knowledge and see the understanding here…
Breaks and beats programmed with hammers and lyrics chiseled into every stoned wall past the 8 mile. Where Blacks misnomered niggas walk and self esteem is fortified by stalking talk misnomered as talk. One of the voices of Detroit you can drink without flinting. Decadence has its documentaries there and Journalist 103 is is a reporter of the mentality of aggression taking broad stroke views of hell, photographing his illness and dropping exposes on the fake rapper. Not a complex record thesis here but certainly not a MC 101 course either. The beats by a variety of men is mean in bass and stick breaking in drums played. For the Hip Hop family that knows the horror of their emotions but doesn’t croon about them like a bitch in the corner of the club dancing in the fetal position known as twerk.
34. TIFF THE GIFT – It Gets Greater Later
I’m old fashioned, shaped in the contours of Coltrane’s title where a sweet Original woman is something to behold. Horns blaze effortlessly yet her drum stride is firm. The sister got things to say, a rhythm of thought. Let me have some song on it and listen to you Queen. That’s a gift, creation’s now creating. That sister Tiff comes I off that crooning on “Passed Out” like a horse that casually walked out the woods. She here and ain’t never had to be. Smooth clicks from the drums casually remind me she’s in the pocket and we flow. That family don’t sleep. Linkrust, F Draper and my man Phoniks slow dance soul crackled works around her and Tiff is such a pleasure to engage. I dance with her. I put one ear around her hip where her flow’s at. It takes on speeds subtly and you never notice she swung that speedy on “Somebody.” My other ear is near her heart, the root to unwrap led there by the vocal ribbons. Encased, that is encrusted in iron cadence stuttering, a sharp golden timbre and a silver breath control, listening reveals timing and cleverness. The thoughts are not all shared and she clues into so much more (“To My Sons”) while she establishes herself as a stylist (“Resolutions”). It’s a joy to unwrap a rarity, a Black female’s ideas in this forum shared with a mastery allowing her to remain fully clothed.
33. AG DA CORONER – Sip The Nectar
Raw Medina mic work. This excellent album I say isn’t close to the talents he will express…Knowledge my #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review HERE
32. DJ JOE BODEGA – 4 ELEMENTS
The power of the compilation album by a lead DJ and/or producer is often in achieving a perfect reoccurrence of real songs writing donr. Bodega’s karma aiding so many artists as part of Bodega Cold Kutz radio show brings him the honor of accumulating legends, greats and the new for a collection of exceptional songs. Napoleon Da Legend, Sunblaze and Shabaam Sahdeeq offer tracks that would be power cuts on their own LPs. The rare combinations are abound and epitomizes with the late Sean Price (Remembered In Perfection) alongside U.G. and the God Sadat X for “Mentally Decapitated.” The beauty of 4 Elements is the introspection achieved in the solo cuts as with Smif N Wessun’s “Dream On” and the rugged excitement of the posse cuts that capture their own radio energy achieved. An exceptional feat that couldn’t have been easy and took great networking and calculation to put forth.
Teacher, how do we make songs of freedom on clave and fly off the conventional like hell’s the place to be? Brother, you gotta still see the people when you tilt your fitted. You need to feel the work’s pain even when the Timbs is crisp and only rock shows not the gravel of vials passed or assignments that make the collar blue. And you must get your anger dancing, let your ideals groove through and make the builds the trend. From the class cipher to the booth cipher, Chilo travels, a poet of the books rocking songs with every soundman with a unique vision. His 3rd straight success as Devi8tor blends B-Boy bounce, Boricua polyrhythms and his idiosyncratic flows to another memorable record. Fun yet insightful, Chilo is a special warrior Hip Hop creates.
30. AGALLAH – Bo: The Legend of the Water Dragon
A Brownsville veteran who is really making the works that will leave him great now…Knowledge my #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review HERE
29. CONSTANT DEVIANTS – Omerta
Boom Bap that rewards with study to admire the precision and lyricism that unites into storylines if you step back and read…Knowledge my #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review and exckusive interview HERE
One of the most sincerest and charismatic MCs I’ve ever met and heard on wax, RnR verses his life and there is too much of it here in all its comedic emphasis and introspective insight in ingenious concept formats that more #ArtOnArt and #ScienceOnMusic gotta come soon on this…
27. DE LA SOUL – And the Anonymous Nobody
Take that out. Slow it down. No. More. Raise up my vocals. The instructions that lead to Boom Bap. The series of accumulated simplified addictions that have us search for instrumentals and wear out the left arrow keys. Some of these dealers delve into more over time and some of them were always on some other shit. If it’s good it’s all from the soul and Trugoy, Posdonous and Maceo have too many styles, thoughts and talents to not continue their experiments in sound.
Anonymous is no different and everything is well done if you’re ready for all these gumbo. From the tough rock accents of “Lord Intended” then down to that soft shit with Usher, “Greyhounds” then back up a little with “Trainwreck” then back down for the funky looseness of “Drawn.” But the rugged “Property of Spitkicker.com” exists and the lively digital blip of “Whoodeeni” with 2 Chainz wasting space. Lyrically, De La is clever but not as intensely ill as their Stakes is High peak. Instead, this is a variegated funk LP with mud tempo bars. It’s a listening journey for the relaxed hours with some clever bars. Not nearly enough lyrics to satisfy the depth of these MC greats but a successful experiment, with lows all respectful enough, that expand possibilities.
Baritone articulation, long words enunciated and clever unifying tactics over long players, Mr. Lif is the ideal lyricist the real feel yet awkward gentrifyers cling to. On Don’t Look Down, “Pounds of Pressure” is that tough shit at his best. The rest stays consistent to it, reaches it experimentally (“Whizdom”), sets off the return of the Perceptionists (“Mission Accomplished”), adds on one of the great left coast MCs ever (Del on “World Renown”). There isn’t a blatant overarching theme as the great I Phantom but it’s a wonderful return revealing he is at the same strong level. More proof came with L’Orange tracks on Life & Death. Multiple duets with Akrobatik and well scratched cuts mean the articulate rugged militancy is even far more potent than Don’t Look Down revealed…
25. TORAE – Entitled
Speaking, vocals collecting chosen words that meant thoughts. Dispelled, discharged and disseminated they hold fortresses of melanin in ‘em. I tell em all that if you say it to all of them in a collected gem they gon dance, chant and rant with them. Torae! The bulls crush the matador. Entitled is the privilege he’s earned and he rushes through this LP with such concentrated lyricism, that is bars with nearly no room between bars. The LP is rhyming so effortlessly and intensely that it plays like a jam session. Ideas are presented, jewels are shared throughout, boating is splattered all over and the words fuse as another percussive instrument. The production is loud and crisp and rewarding if you listen. And isn’t that the fucking problem. Listening to the entitled but not the sincere who really are. Olay…the dying matadors of mushy traps whimper as we play…
Them Dominicanos son heavy...Always in the pocket and in supreme duo synergy Oprime39 and Superbad Solace make an MC tech record here. Broken flows, chopped phrasing, internal rhyming, alternating rhythms etc etc is what this LP is for. While I’m clear that every guest isn’t a favorite, every song their sincerity is . where an entire LP on battle rhymes still inspires. One of the last classic songs with our brother Sean Price (Remembered In Perfection), “Hardbody Katate” is a masterpiece. The music harkens so many glorious energies from the groove of “40 Below,” the snare smashes and string plucks of Wavelength” to the thumping bassline of “Gods in the Details.” The latter track reveals that as TT continue they have so much more to say. These MCs deserve countless albums for us to see what they really can tell us. We ought to support and enjoy these LO Life brothers now and earn their greatest works to come. Cold Wave, the current build proof.
23. WESTSIDE GUNN – Flygod (Bonus: Hitler Wears Hermes 4)
Nigga wit we press play, Nigger bit we stress and stay. Cold days for the real and even the real mix with the shark biters in today’s raps. All a craps game like I gotta let good sounds tell me the truth. We’sa been slaves in all dis here forms and drum talk got too many lies in then sometimes. Make a nigga dance to tickled taps and molested snares.
So enter the shooter Westside Gunn with his man Conway. What the fuck?! They peel slow, bullets in slow motion and complexities bleed from nigga’s heads not the lyrics. Now I still can’t fuck with anything but the original Ghost and the actual Nas. Still, these are mistakes that are sadly multiplying by the sincere and talented and so it is with Gunn. The magic of Gunn and his partner in verse, Conway is an aura that prevails through incredible beatwork. It’s all heavily influenced by Cuban Linx legends of Wu and the more you listen the only sharkness is in the misplaced guests. Gunn’s lyrical skill isn’t concerned with dexterity or layering. His tempo is obsessively steeped in the slowest of rolls. But the beatwork is perfectly suited. Amazingly stripped tracks as “Over Gold” where the xylophone bell casually with the power snares and the menacing bass smash. As a stylist, Gunn’s roots are GhostDeini sparked but the fire is in a sinister hold of malice and anger in the flashiest of nigga chants. The white kids out of the fire will eat up this drama they don’t understand. For us Black and Brown steeped in the street or raised struggling through the aftermath of sidewalks it’s visions of scarring that need a voice to distill blood and sweat. There’s too many tears for weak fusions, meek reasons and fleek visions. These savages are fighting for their livelihood, a humanity in a better way of eating. I’m respecting the hustle and want to see what they build.
Kobe won two rings with no Hall of Famers so there was no French brawn to get the best mic handlers to dribble deadline classics for him. All really on his own and a team game is really an army with a general charging, shooting, scoring. Hip Hop might bounce well with no legendary mic handles but there’s still too many oops left in the alley.
Along with RZA and DJ Premier, Pete Rock is in the trilogy of the music’s peak musical progression, what most embrace or dismiss categorically as Boom Bap. Pete Rock is a master of the thickened drum with all of the Blues and improvisational wizardry of the Jazz masters into the greatest controlled substances. Here, the diversity is noticed only because the limitations of the lead MC Smoke DZA have to be tended to. So the pleasantly horns and sharp snaps of “Dusk to Dusk” or the breakless groove of “Hold the Drums” work for DZA. Now the dart sting here is that Rock ought to use legends or the supremacy talents on the rise. That opportunity cost can’t be ignored because then this record has no context after all these years waiting for another Rock produced work. In addition, some of the guests are weak 10 point scorers from Wale to Mac Miller. There is a real fucking disconnect when these are the MCs named when we talk about the new generation, the same mistake of tunnel vision when Lamar and Cole are named as the best of this era.
Despite this and maturely moving the fuck on, DZA is a stylist who makes verses into hooks with inflections of his natural voice and has great rhythm in the slow midtempo he lives in. In a classic catalog, this is another notch of skills displayed for Rock and as with most MCs, DZA’s signature work by default.
Violence is the lazy way to see all this. When things are destroyed, the sight of nothing is never present. Instead, it’s some new fucked up shit. Like the best of Mobb Deep. Pages and pages of defiant death orated onto breaks with the most piercing of snares and matching drum sets. They have shown codes of the street that propel them to a new world of success, a fucking life that they never could have made for themselves prior.
Now missteps abound and mistakes got switched on in print, songs with the wrong people get made and even discord among the duo takes place. But the talents that made them triumph are still there. They are for us to learn from as we enjoy the horrors they inflict bar to bar.
Alchemist is on some bullshit sitting next to Action Bronson talking Ancient Aliens. That in one swoop we watch white folk appropriate our Black culture of today and our Black ancestry of ancient epics. The talented don’t earn the rights to squander truth. No artist has the right to be paid, only the honor to make great works. When we think they ought to be paid were saying they have the right to also be paid by any means. Appropriation is usually the hustle that slaps the table top.
On Silent Partner, I can contradictorily praise as Al is producing for the Blackness of Mobb Deep, Havoc, the MC that has been the most rooted thus far or not as stained. These soundscapes are cryptic in their simplicity, the thudding thickness Al laces his drums and the surprise he unwraps in his sampling. Havoc is tough, rugged, emphasizing street ideals and refrains he’s worked to live by with his resume as proof. It becomes a strong fucking album that doesn’t excuse the things I disagree with but leaves me impressed with the possibility of their musical elevation.
20. U.G. – Portals
Portals are the pauses in UG’s flow, gaping holes of nothing where thorned bushed drums strike out and grasp the arms of your telemeres. Again and again, as his voice skips and bounces, the drums, now merging with sliding strings and sirens of some lady’s last harmonized screams, them drums clasp and latch on. And you delivered into another fucking portal. You let yourself get fucked up, mangled in the center like your bop was planned but who knows. Who the hell is that goon clapping on “Megatron”? And will the scenes on “Might & Magic” have the answers to this alternate universe we in when this orange demon pettily proclaims his throne? When we stomp through as some of the ”Super Gods” will we have the deft of cleverness of “vanish amulets and blow and lift your house up with a supreme genetic makeup. The similes paint exotic imagery, the braggadocio is epic and the tracks have a deep depth in their simplicity because every musical choice develops his theme as an other worldly brother. One of the thickest, most space-filled productions this year his vocals cut through as a wormhole altering pace perception and with baritone toughness teleporting vocal projection to us. This is the portal where a superhero isn’t so for the saving of humanity but the way he saves it.
There’s gotta be more than drums, snares and bass under some spoken vocals that rhyme. The closer listen to Psycho and you hear so many sounds you call them shit like cacophonous. That’s what Beatnuts do. They can pile polyrhythms or stack melodies and engage us as we decipher and sense it all together in amazement. Or they just amplify the greatest simplicity for the greatest hook ever. And none of it pops because listeners aint shit or its just too ill. A combination of all them things and Psycho don’t give a fuck. The thickness of “Fuck Em If They Listening,” the mouth popping in “Get Sprayed,” the melodoc bassline of “Two Masked Men,” the differing organ flips of “We Won’t Stop” and “Danger Zone” that becomes the devil’s church of doom. The Beatnuts are masters at the pure and thudded bass drum beat and “Hip Hop Never Left” is the epitome. The guests are some of the greatest, nearly all the illest and still not the star as the most needed verses are Psycho Les’ suciedad.
18. ATCQ – We Got It From Here…Thanks For Your Service
Southern niggas told me I’m bitter more than thrice cause they got twice as nice, took over rap, every slice, and that’s why I say it don’t suffice. I build them 2000s was the Dark Ages and it’s gots a whole thesis to it. The South are just ying yang pawns the way Reggaeton niggas thought they could rhyme. Regional diversity, wack niggas all over the world to fuck shit up. But Dark Ages saw radio digitized to play drivel and the best bullshit makers rock. Payola receives itself in diverse places we can’t find. Media writes on who is going to be hot according to them. The talented gimmicks make the white kid GOAT and Jigga plays all day cause who else could payola but Jayova.
And the best MCs of the classical era, the 90s, the greatest era of recorded Hip Hop, start diluting or getting experimental. Sometimes that goes together cause progressive music and a bitch beta sentiment seem to go together. No more Killarmy as the mentals, no way we’re going to hear RZA build as in 97, the new wave of Black Star, a developed common and dpz seem to point to resurrection but as decade went on, the music for the best artists gained complexity but with a passive, non-militant, pseudo-rebellious intent. The peaks get formatted in the underground where no one graduates and Boom Bap is a niche for the white kids, corny and a few ill, that have their way making what they think is our music. It’s now for everybody so none of it relates as a counterculture. The only sense of rebellion is in the popped NYC hardcore that borns 50 Cent. While Tragedy Khadafi’s supremacy is stashed away as a secret study manual, treble heavy, frivolity flavored candy gangsta shit from Dipset to Ruff Ryders have the last remaining essence of the streets. Feels gutter, has grimy but it’s sloppy, lacking skill, content and is the root of ratchetness.
Damn, these fucking Dark Ages and I gotta hate dancing coons from the South, trap music whose best artists are hardly the tip of the nest MCing that already came out. So when before the girth of the street crime, violence and hell is articulated in depth and toward solutions like the knowledge of self the way Wu did, the everyman that all related to, whose skills were exceptional, music beautiful yet tough was A Tribe Called Quest.
Rappaport’s documentary on Tribe is the epitome of appropriation into entitled presentation. So he loves Tribe and has the right to not show us how they made albums that are classics of classics but how Black brothers broke apart as their relationships became more complicated. So many Hip Hop art—Soul, Salsa, Reggae, Blues, Jazz artists have had their groups fall apart due to life, it’s difficulty, their changing realities and the damned labels, media and radio industry devils. Q-Tip and Phife had issues that were their own. It isn’t that relevant if only to expose one as villain and one as victim. It never affected their ideals, their content’s understanding or their Hip Hop sensibilities of its purity.
Remembered In Perfection Phife and now we know the questions musically were that this music, affected by the late J Dilla, became more pop tinged funk as opposed to a souled jazz root that retained a smooth grit. The shit works when Tip rides solo because the funk rattling cries shake well with his verses now littered with more chorus chants and funk vocal phrasing. And as Phife, who never lost the grit mentioned (“Whatever Will Be”), his way affects the best songs here. Tip, a legendary Hip Hop musician as producer and MC, fills the LP with lots of funk that drags vocally especially when his verses are powerful. So “Solid Wall of Sound” is an ill track that goes nowhere and “Kids” is the soft mush the Dark Ages made out of supreme MCs where Andre 3000 sounds gay as hell. Politics made the music this soft and correctness got rappers becoming rock stars. And some of the music plays here as of you need the aging hipster outfits Tip rocks now.
Regardless to whom or what, the musical quality on too much of this record, the lyrical insights cleverly spit override my hatred of the hipster universality I hear countercultural legends seem to shift to. Tip, when he MCs, then his ideas of depth spill out amazingly as on “Melatonin” and the guitar locks are funky like Funkadelic. The LP is a collector’s item for its existence despite Phife returning to the essence. If he was alive I’m convinced or will forever resign in my mind that this would be a classic LP with a better album cover than this fucking doodle that’s sprawled on the shit.
I never burnt a bridge that didn’t hover my light with gases. The bougie vibe, undersized triple XL but no Ls, that is, no love, no loyalty or the source of devilishment unknown they say? But I knew. Combustion was a function of my gumption. The bridges in these rap papers were thin spaces I couldn’t move my instrument in. These ain’t fucking bridges but high profile planks to publish drowning. The bridges are the principles that don’t waver and all wavy for the struggling water asunder. And we supposed to ideally build with the A-Alikes that puzzle into the history we writing.
And General Steele displays the construction work of the highest command. Leading the next era of Bootcamp Clik affiliates, he sets off tracks with an effortless mid to slow tempo a d his insights rewind in the mind like aphorisims. Steele’s entire persona is based on humility even in the face of his dominance that is there precisely because he respects the intensity of oppression and the still overbearing beauty of life VVS Verbal is forefronted matching Steele in cadence with a clarity that conveys sincerity. The tempos and wonderfully minimalist jazzy piano riffs, crisp cuts and thickened bass’d breaks of Es-K are an incredible producer surprise. An incredible album in the ranking of “epitome of execution” Steele is only greater, VVS Verbal and Es-K are talents to follow. And if your statistics are complete Napoleon Da Legend layers more supreme bars while we can again say Sean Price, rhyming in an unorthodox, slow tempo delivering lines as “faggot ass chirch goers and tambourine players” is an LP stealing performance. Always Remembered In Perfection P!
Hip Hop, frozen contemplation preserved in variegated rhymed couplets delivered via breakbeat acceleration. That is, the Rekful ideas of a people growing while they profiling that challenge hypocrites’ decorum and lend warriors an A-alike forum. So much of this is unknown we’ve got to agree with the brother Reks that he may be its greatest unknown. One of the greats that spawned out of the Dark Ages I built with Reks about the elevation of technical skill as much as the thoughts embedded in the mic athletics. It is certain that Reks could fill digital spaces with endless techniques of breathless flows, altered pacing, internal rhyming and any other whether named or not. Yet this double LP is now born because like other MCs from Killah Priest and Nas to Ras Kass and 2Pac (Remembered In Perfection), Reks has too much on his mind. Commentaries on the wack (“EgoTrippen”), idolizing Isiah Thomas growing up as I and the way it leads to inspiration despite lack of options (“Jump Shots”), love (“The Promise”), police brutality (“Hands Up”), the theme of the unknown (“A.N.O.N.Y.M.O.U.S.”), posse cuts (“Plane Gang”) and political, spiritual and social commentary ideas all between battle bars. Beatwise, the massive skill sets let him try tracks that others cannot and we don’t always prefer best but a double LP needs experimentation and the display of more than the best meals. The only flaw really is the highlight of too many MCs not quite at his level. Still, the entire 35 track work is a testament to his supremacy that truly is criminally unknown too the masses. Reks just answers as a master of Creation, “Her Infinite Power Help Oppressed People.”
Orale! We at the wall with explosives and adhesives, devices to destroy the writes of passage and cling our revolution to your mind. Cue Psychedelic cause a whole band of my Mexican brothers are led through as Sick Jacken orchestrates productions of loud slap drum chaos, funky basslines and menacing melodies that volley his militant marches. MCs with ideas and concepts are a blessing and the Brown never being down with the pimping industry always had a hard time being spoke on wax. But always woke and Jacken been more proof. Fuck your religion in detail (“Absynthe”), the government digi-encroaching (“High Frequency”), police brutality (“Rampart Throwback”) building the best part- them babies (“Generation Psycho”) and so much more. Through that live drop top music, the living musicianship Jacken orchestrates adds the groove in the funk to deeper level. The active morphing basslines on “High Frequency, ” the deafening basslines on “Hell’s Bells” and “Rampart Throwback,” the subtle bongo y conga polyrhythms on “Brain Damage,” or the keyboard dialogue and scratchwork on “Struggle So Beautiful.”
Psychodelic is the latest down Brown proof of the melanated supremacy of Sick Jacken as a complete musician and sincere builder. Blast this at the fucking wall…
Islamic chants and rants become dances that emance til I plate a supremacy. Hard to imagine the oddities of a said religion that, in embracing it’s words and mathematical formats in expression have led more than one man to see he is God. From the orthodox of one unknown Allah holding all the 99 attributes of supremacy taken down to oppress Africa while Moors went up into parts of Europe to civilize and Black blood. It seemed to just empower those Spaniard conquistador devils that raped my ancestors. But brings rain, hail but no dough…Fast forward a slow oppression and we be here and the true and living Gods dealing with no mystery. So these Muslim garbs, confused manners and even some of its words get tossed. Rewrote, reworded and re-rhymed all over the Pangea, the original Planet Asia, the God Power.
And in 1, 2 and 3 power moves the God covertly dominated until we held all three of his works and noticed he MCd the fuck out of the Knowledge Equality year. God came with a wonderful gold theme on Seventy Nine with wordplay in cut phrasing that hits the top of Morris Mountain with the utmost magnetic on “Sacred Sermons,” versing, “Life on the line for liberation/Babylon wants me at the station/I’m on my Godbody radiation/master monk meditation/on my way to the presidential inauguration…” Through Asiatic Prince, the funk is live and energetic as on “Tophat Cats” where battle bars reach results because his phrasing and pacing are never controlled by the beat alone but by his vocal dexterity allowing his rhyme handles to dribble anywhere on the track’s court. With the year’s finale, Egyptian Merchandise, the lone LP, the tempos can vary now and PA’s cleverness can extend from song titles to the character exuded. One of the most non-didactic MCs with actual insights, his talents are his greatest camouflage as the effortlessness of his delivery, the triumphant celebration he presents and the dexterity that mixes with writing technique all are truths for is to uncover through the woodlands of songs that range from bass bap bangers to roots riddims. PA reached another level when he made his classic LP with DJMuggs in 08. Nearly a decade later, his skill sets are rewarded in finding these subtleties. The merchandise, like most of the greatest MCs performing in this Invisible Renaissance of the 2010s, are treasures deserving more than a play to unfold the mystery of the true and living…
13. D.I.T.C. – D.I.T.C. Studios (Bonus: DITC Sessions)
Now what the fuck we gon do with Fat Joe? The quantum mechanics question the ol’ scientists of sound got answers for but for now ease up and let it be a koan. That is, who has time to give a fuck about Fat Joe when he went to Miami and sold out or the other way around—Viva Fidel! Remembered In Perfection. So let that koan let you realize the hypocrisies I got myself covering for over twenty years. That maybe the real Hip Hop isn’t just for the real but the place to be real. And the brilliance of O.C. and AG is a fucking cleansing bath of bars. Their aura in their slow and mid tempo pacing, clarity, timbre of calm authority are moments similar to the ones Denzel captures on film. Through tracks that are the epitome of the genre they helped develop, the crispy snares, the thick bass drums and the riveting horns bless through. An LP with powerful highlights from the distinct as the isolated opening snare on “Brolic” to the overall as in the building on “It’s Cold Outside” or just the triplet illness Premo on “Connect 3.” An LP to realize greats are still great but still after all that dancing all the way up and over 10 years of laboratory experiments on crossover then reppin strong on these sessions, an aberration most likely, I’m not thinking about that elected chump. I’m thinking what the fuck we gon do with Fat Joe?!
Before I knew I was a writer, someone who has forums for him, someone pathetic rugged individualists note gets paid for putting words that no one gives a fuck about after the pages are turned, someone who is at the most honorable expected by some to represent challenging ideas presented innovative. Before I could classify by any of that, MCs were the writers and for the most verbose on rewind and enjoyed, I made time to listen to them. Find a spot where the streets can’t watch, where I don’t owe the man cause welfare isn’t paying this part of my tuition, where the thoughts and ideas of the Original man aren’t just something to dance to. Sleep Sinatra you make time for.
My Nebraskan brother Sleep is a meditative journal of introspection. I don’t think I will be able to enjoy his work the way it merits. Who has time to travel through the ethers of his battle raps that don’t fight mere rappers but devilishment (“Another Life”)? Or configure how he laces the tech funky “Nezhno” to bomb police brutality but show how it’s really a battle for the higher self? Who can schedule the analysis of illness of the battle rap of “Pineal Burst” that encompasses his entire theme as a creating Creator? Sleep is not expanding but growing deeper in depth. A wordplay with greater vocabulary, a rage with more insight and ideas with more daring. The more my brother learns the more potent he becomes.
The tracks are wicked merges of jazz cool with best avant garde (“Mondo’s Ghost”) to rampaging horn bangers (“Sights Beyond”) to drowning pianos (“Million Little Pieces”) to the rising Alma de “The Harvest” with lifted wails, speaker bass pops and crackling vinyl. All the sounds vary, enjoyed in discovery with classical rhythms that promote the MCing literature.
For a pair of decades I’ve been a writer and I still must make time for Sleep.
11. SADAT X – Agua
The God is one of the most prolific solo LP creators of all time and one of the crucial brothers that has taken the Lo Life Hip Hop movement to new heights. I consider Agua his greatest solo LP…Knowledge my #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review HERE
10. DOM PACHINO – Gemini Mind (Bonus: Digital Warfare)
Killarmy been a mandatory necessity for warriors and Pachino, the Boricua been the general providing with a strong catalog in the Dark Ages that has become stellar in this Invisible Renaissance. Digital Warfare is a powerful addendum and gives PR Terrorist 2 hours of martial training on repeat.
Knowledge the #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review of Gemini Mind HERE
Go try to find another writer with my kind of grammar? It’s a fucking question in a b-boy stance, on the square the true and living God invite defiance. But it don’t come cause niggas can’t write. It’s that they not here to write. They hear to say as little as possible to provoke lust for their package, savage indulging of thwir brand, an excitement for a depth that won’t ever come. A new mystery that you can offer pittance to, a new Jesus Christ hustler. #RespectFAKE, opposers’ post-it notes peeling off as the fruit grows on my Earth scroll.
All to be at a level of understanding of the real writers, not them fraud authors and weak byline bitches but the MCs, the real writers of our era. This Epidemic is real and Hex-One and Tek-nition continue to be two of the most prolific pen man writing. Their dexterity is based on breath control—that is they don’t need air anymore. On this 4 Dimensions it’s clear that oxygen isn’t a necessity when the breaks reach consistency. The formula, on the surface is the expected Boom Bap with excellent mastering, choice drums and as always my requisite, all room filling. Yet, It’s the joy of hearing GOAT candidates as Monch and Po rhyme long verses and 70 plus bars a song that is reawakened with Epidemic.
The entire 4 Dimensions literally are designed to play in the flow of seasons. Marked by intensity and filled with varying levels of introspection from mental trials of “Metempsychosis” with soothing guitar strings through bass thumps, the morphing characters abound (“Seasunz”), the addictive take on the addiction of Hip Hop (“From The Beginning”), the amplified tempos spit through “Hidden.” Every song is layered, internal rhyming and crowded syllabic synergy is so rampant we may forget it’s equivalent to dunking every possession. And the concepts are there once the athletics are compartmentalized enough. An actual insight to the career choice of MCing not mere gripes without context on “Round n Round,” battle raps that are astounding (“A Second To Wreck It”).
This year’s best albums are steeped in Boom Bap, hard tracks and concepts via lyrical techniques and 4 Dimensions On A Paper may be the most potent of them all.
8. POWERULE – The Anomaly
The comeback of the decade because his vocal styling, lyricism and musical sense is even greater than ever…Knowledge my #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review HERE and exclusive feature HERE and exclusive interview HERE
The most visible illness of the Invisible Renaissance is Boricuas don’t need no fucking label to let us do some of the culture we co-created. The Puerto Rican history is rich with the flyness of masters who made ideas and struggle danceable.
Nitty shines just when I thought her beauty might becoming her major production credit. She dances around the breaks with nimble dexterity, the frescura is on every snare, the emotions are inside Lavoe’s bridge and the salsura is in the basslines. Ortiz never made no mistakes and is the veteran cap’n that expected Bodega and Nitty to hit with power. Bamz epitomizes the lost MC as with these perfect tracks his altered vocalizing never loses rhythm and now I can stay fronting on the trapped snare coffin scores he styles all over.
The perfected tracks are a clue to Boom Bap’s erroneous stereotype. The sampling isn’t supposed to have any bounds and the wealth of Latin music—that is the Africa music mainly from the Caribbean that preserved the polyrythms and the classical drums from congas to bongos. Salaam Remi picks all the right crates and the wherewithal to devise themes for each party that range from the beautifully touching “Mothers Mark” through the signature song of El Cantante de los Cantantes, the bounce break of “Hola,” the swinging son on “Gato,” the conga descarga of “Rrraahh” or the watusi guitars of “Shots.” With clever choruses like the latter mentioned to unique references that reveal more than Wiki reads the Boricuaness is tough.
A simple idea of spotlighting the talents of the Boricua essence from the massive lyrical dexterity, the soul in articulately told struggles, the charisma of supreme party stylists, the rhythmic depth of our people’s crates and the synergy between three of our mic controllers. An LP unlike any other this entire Invisible Renaissance, that’s this whole decade…
How common are revolutionaries? Seems they all know common isn’t enough. His autobio is more love stories than journals on how some of Hip Hop’s rebellious verses were written. And more about his Mama’s honored thoughts on her son than how he jumped from incredible works to weak coasters. The nigga wanted to dance or the brother had some real shit to say are all to simple to explain it all. I think it’s simpler. Every albums a capsule of his current mindset, like so many greats then and now. The difference is there is a sound that could encapsulate his love for our people, the 16 shades of indigenous I mean, and all the frivolity of daily life, the horror of it and the power of its possibility in supremacy, on all levels. In these beautiful, hardcore, bluesy, booming beats of Black America Again, I’d say he’s found a sound that is him.
Everyday it seems a brother of note does some dumb shit. And like Confucius say, I been thinking more and more that I see it cause it could be my own self. The God getting some overhand shake by Trump, niggas making coon memes of me, the latest hashtag to summarize the loss of another brother’s dammed mind. Now cipher. Emphatically no. Not this time so no study this genius of common. This is an album you play thinking on being Black, the colorism in all its pathetic sadness, the beauty of the Original woman from that ideal gorgeous Black, steatopygia afflicted sister to that light skinned honey that only passes cause you say so though no one white seems to be just handing out wolf tickets.
Common gets syrupy like he does and the the smooth thump is right on “Love Star” and the floating musicality of “Red Wine” is sublime dining while “Unfamiliar” is real, understanding from grown men working to be with a woman one loves for a life together. The title track and “Pyramids” a brother rhymes with fury, internal rhymes enabled in double time flows and the layering always makes the song’s insights punctuate and the music’s funk is organic and pure, a sound albums don’t really capture today. Black America Again has the sensibilities of the Soulquarians at the early 00s when the Dark Ages left them alone building. It certainly never fails with dance songs like most of UMC or is soft hippie vibed like Electric Circus. Instead, it’s R&B grooved and with R&B nearly dead, the LP smooths out with common’s intimate thoughts as a father (“A Bigger Picture Called Free”) to the live horn bapped “The Day Women Took Over” where a dreamed concept brings insight to how our women’s cultivation and nature infiltrating all facets of life is a necessary mandate. And this hard breaked Soul Jazzed LP with John Legend singing forever on “Rain” works because the MCing by Common, even when minimal, is critical. The brother put only his most important and potent words on this LP. His clever double entendre mastery and layering is at the highest peak just as on Be or One Day. It’s a focused to some of the worst times in human history because oppression, savagery and pure hatred are so awkward yet so clear, so exposed yet so prolific, so hated yet so adhered to. And common again spills his life, it’s a revolutionary one to me because he built with us Gods and respected it and became a better Christian, loved many women we all know of yet never belittled them but honored them sharing insights of them, seen racism in many angles and tax brackets and always fights to speak to all of us Black America Again. That makes Hip Hop a culture of forums for our betterment when a brother strives and succeeds to create Art so worthwhile. Any letter to the Free has a wavering postage so listen…
In over 16 years I’ve taught about half a thousand niggas that they not niggas. That they are Gods because when alone, the moments Confucius warned us to watch over ourselves, there is only one Almighty. Arm, Leg, Leg, Arm, Head. Lotta grown niggas, the ones that never rebelled against a life oppressed or the methods we’ve only been allowed to use from the model minorities to the rugged individualists, find reasons why a knowledge of self with scientific precedent ain’t right. Y’all ain’t pro-Black cause you teach white folk or I don’t see any nigga being God. Or something else that they’ll never wait for the understanding to come through. All peace. We’ll see. But what is seen is that the minds of any nigga create all his circumstances. As a nigga cooneth so he be niggeth. And how many of us have the immunity to express the hells we place ourselves in through the lead poison. The words inked out that may only overthink your diseased state or the liquid SacredWords that heal with illness. Who is to know till we build with the Black man but elzhi done rhymed so profound he may have healed himself.
Lyricism at this level, brought with clarity, fluidity and sincerity is astounding to listen to. Rhyming right ain’t really ever been easy. Success is waning if it even comes. For Elzhi, the extension of that classic Rakim metaphor of a sinking into the rhyme is brilliant on “Hello” versing, “I was at a loss for words when I got lost in the words/I got choked by the letter ‘o’ but dotted all the ‘i’s/So I had to cross the ‘t’s when we became the same size/I kicked the first line in the verse back and it indents/So now I’m chased by this run-on sentence/I ran so fast I leaped from the page that’s when the paper split/Then I closed my notebook shut, tried to escape this shit…” The double time rhyme that is completely enunciated correctly meaning you can actually get the words said on “The Healing Process.” The vampire tale as a way of expressing becoming the bloodsucker that once persecuted you, the trials of the MC “taking his destiny into his own hands” adding depth to the kickstarter campaign that raised $37,0000 yet took long to release all delved into from “Introverted” to “Cloud.” Cleverness is the style of an MC’s mindful illness and it’s supremacy is when entire songs become metaphors as “Two 16’s” to making depression through an LP not an anomaly of condition to the few but a real issue all of us deal with on many levels. The war is mental and elzhi diving deep into it is pure Art that inspires.
When I teach, I teach of myself so I share with them the need to write. Revealing how isn’t always necessary. The build is in that they do write and in journals, through poems and prose, they let out poison in massive gorges of lead.
4. APOLLO BROWN & SKYZOO – The Easy Truth
Skyzoo is an essential MC and Apollo provided stellar beats from his rote factory of Soul. An LP to suggest to one beginning a collection of a great lyricist poet…Knowledge my #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review HERE
A definite GOAT candidate Ras Kass makes a supreme double LP with his best beat choices…Knowledge my #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review and exclusive interview build HERE
2. CYRUS MALACHI – Dystopian Dialect (Bonus: Naked Among Wolves EP)
The most dense lyricist emerging out of this Invisible Renaissance. Dystopian is as powerful as his first two immaculate LPs while the Naked EP, aside from bestowing a great honor upon me on “Dark Room” is filled with the meanest writing textures. A booming voice and a visionary detail that baps, Cyrus is the music itself. A verbose vineyard of fine wines to meditate this war’s many battlefronts upon…Knowledge my #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review HERE
1. KA – Honor Killed The Samurai
Another indispensable LP, a Kind Of Blue for the martial disciples out of Brooklyn. The concentration of soul is immense, the principles are linked with my own word is bond and the artistry is the Blackest thing you can listen to, the longest dark night with words on drums orchestrated by Qi you better find… Knowledge my #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic review HERE
0. KEVLAAR 7 (Remembered In Perfection) – A Beautiful Soul (Bonus: Bronze Nazareth – Instrumental Mourning)
I love you my brother. Always premierely purposed here, I write revolutionarily like we all revolutionary. You and P opened this booth for me for my own element to show and prove all it is. #ArtOnArt, #ScienceOnMusic, just a Brown brother with KOS scraping pages. I can’t thank you enough for that. I can keep telling them how your lyricism inspired and work to project that appreciation to others. That’s just good journalism, the service of my element. Word. We’ll build where we always only could, the mind. Peace to the God…Knowledge my #ArtOnArt #ScienceOnMusic review HERE