Kardinal Offishall - Kill Shot [Video]

Visuals from Kardinal’s Kill Shot here, the latest drop from his and Nottz’ collaborative album A.M.T.R.I.M. (Allow Me To Re-Introduce Myself). 

I’m feeling this track but something about it isn’t quite right. I mean, it’s just too aggressive for a track which essentially is chastising the use of guns. The visuals are grimy and at times I feel like Kardinal is almost glamorising the use of carrying heat.

As a musical piece, it’s nice. Nottz brings his disjointed production to great effect, somehow managing to bookend a couple of Steve Carell samples in there too.

Beanie Sigel ft. 8Ball and MJG - Dollar Signs


Beans hooks up with the southern duo to drop some fire from Drumma Boy’s Welcome To My City 2 mixtape out now.

I used to listen to lots of Southern music hip-hop when I was younger, mainly driven around their penchant for pulsating instrumentals and deep heavy basslines and that inner-child in me drove my interest in this. Nothing groundbreaking lyrically here but definitely one for those that like their hip-hop brashy and in your face.

INCREDIBOX: It really is.


I’m a little late on this perhaps, but today I found one of my favourite sites on the Internet EVER. It’s rare that a website can give so much joy (there are others out there, but I’ll let you imagine which ones those are) and I find myself sat grinning at my computer screen whilst playing around with the little men (…)

INCREDIBOX is essentially a better (more enjoyable), definitely easier-to-use version of Garageband, but where  you simply drag and drop ‘actions’ onto the characters to create an ad-hoc melody, rhyme whatever. You have to try this. Addictive? Very.

INCREDIBOX

Nas ft. AZ – Life’s A Bitch [Live]

So I’ve been meaning to post this up for a while now, but every time I go to do it I get distracted watching the entire Illmatic performance from Nas’ SXSW set. I’ve gone with his AZ joint venture here, but you’ll have to head over to YouTube and battle with that VEVO thing to watch the rest.

Things to note from this:

1. PREMO is on the decks!

2. AZ spits like it’s 1995 all over and I’m salivating for a potential new collab on either his or Nas’ upcoming LP.

3. The crowd is horrible. Like horrible. I feel bad for Nas. I mean, there he is performing the best hip hop album of all time. Live. With AZ. With Premo. And nothing.

Help The ILLZ Release The Darkest Hour LP

Direct from the man himself:

“We are dying to release our follow up to The Pursuit LP entitled The Darkest Hour. We have 15 NEW TRACKS on this project and need your help in getting it done so that we can release it!

OUR GOAL: Raise $3,000 in order to release The Darkest Hour

WHERE THE MONEY GOES: Final recording, mixing, and mastering costs needed to complete the project

HOW YOU CAN HELP: By donating any amount you’d like through our donate button here.”

Unconvinced? Click here to see what The ILLZ has delivered in the past.

 

Jon Connor – The Way I Am


Not as potent as the original, but nevertheless a solid attempt by the Michigan spitter Jon Connor. 13th April is the date for Jon’s ‘all Eminem beats’ album entitled The People’s Rapper LP. Catch up on on the last instrumental (Soldier) he tackled here.

K’NAAN ft. Nas – Nothing To Lose (Remix) [Prod. Will.I.Am]

Will.I.Am jumps behind the boards to give the original a revamp.

Accompanied with the black and white visuals, the remix gives us a totally different feel, somewhat more classical and throwback. I feel this version suits the verses better, Nas’ obviously a particular highlight. This is the kind of thing I’d like to hear on whatever his new album is called. But alas, I expect trademark Nas with his terrible beat selection whilst trying to ‘push the envelope’.

K’NAAN’s More Beautiful Than Silence EP can be picked up over at iTunes.

Psalm One ft. R.A. The Rugged Man – Open Relationship [Video]

Rugged Man features are always things to savour. Rugged Man features on a video? You’d be mad to miss it. Although only a feature on this, you can tell he always has a ‘hands-on’ influence on directing as these visuals with Psalm One elicit that classic R.A. humour.

Bumpy Knuckles is also doing the rounds, on the back of his recently released collaboration project with DJ Premier, and makes a hilarious cameo here.

This has got me thinking, by the use of hip-hop algebra… R.A. knows Bumpy… Bumpy knows Premo… You do the math.

The Notorious B.I.G.-My Downfall (Kensaye Remix)


Considered by most to be one of the greatest MCs in history, then selfishly refusing to make any more music due to being dead, Biggie is one of those artists whose vocals have been cut and pasted onto projects varying from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Here, French producer Kensaye manages to find something new to do with a BIG track, creating a hauntingly relaxed beat for the Life After Death classic. Kensaye himself explained his reason for making the track, saying: “Anyone that loves Hip-Hop today needs to pay dues to the King of Brooklyn. That’s why as an avid Hip Hop fan I remixed one of his tracks, opting for the more chilled and atmospheric approach.”

Does this stand out among the plethora of Biggie remixes? Let us know in the comments.

AZ - My Ni**as (Produced by Buckwild)


Now THIS is what I’m talking about. First drop from AZ’s Doe Or Die II (As summer is officially here in Barcelona, I’ve been bumping the original a lot recently) and it sounds gooood.  This is more of a ‘shout out’ track and wouldn’t surprise me if it ended up at the end of the LP, but from what I hear from Buckwild and AZ is that the both are still on form like it’s 1995 all over. Horns are on the agenda here giving the flavour of this track that old-school 90′s feel that us 90′s heads all clamour for. Delicious.

 

Wordsworth – Joy & Pain (Produced by Apollo Brown)


Wordsworth has a new album coming called The Photo Album with June 12th the date. This is the lead single from said project and Wordsworth hasn’t missed a trick here, enlisting upcoming beat-maker Apollo Brown to deliver the goods on the boards. And as always, he delivers. Brown allows Wordsworth to take centre stage, sliding his smooth flow effortlessly over the crisp, feel-good backdrop. Will definitely be keeping my eye out for the LP on the strength of this.

SP Double ft. Royce Da 5’9″ and Crooked I – Recognize


Not a big fan of the artwork here, but as they say: “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. And hell, if we did that nobody would listen to anything from the 90′s… What is important is that we’ve got a real nice (and I’m going to steal this word from Ajay) slice of hip-hop with half of the Slaughter teaming up with SP Double, who I’ll admit, I know very little about. But this is good and definitely worth a listen, if only for Royce/Crook.

Obie Trice ft. Eminem – Richard


When I first heard this, I couldn’t help but think to myself “Obie”. Statik Selektah on the boards shows his versatility by crafting something in can only presume was made with Obie in mind. It’s got that rolling, light-feeling to it that reminds me in some ways of Obie’s hit Got Some Teeth. That said, I won’t be paying too much attention to this in terms of how I think the album will sound as I feel Obie is going to go in like he did on his criminally underrated Second Rounds On Me. April 3rd is the date.

DJ Premier and Bumpy Knuckles ft. Nas – Turn Up The Mic (Remix)


This has that distinct Premo/Nas flavour, but yet still leaves me with a disappointing taste in my mouth. I haven’t listened to the album yet (which is out tomorrow, you can pick that up over here.) but from the several leaks we’ve heard, I’m yet to hear anything groundbreaking from your favourite producer’s favourite producer.

Busta Rhymes and Twista – Can You Keep Up?


When it comes to treble-time flows, there aren’t many better in the game than Busta and Twista. I, for one, have a lot of time for hype tracks like this, if only to recognise the difficulty that rapping like this must present. I just hope Busta can turn this form into something memorable like these two gems. Here and here.

Context MC - Drowning [Video]

Context MC delivers us his new video 25 feet underwater!

The video is directed by Louis Ellison – at the very same studios that the Bourne Trilogy was filmed, and has already been playlisted by both MTV and MTV Base (so chances are a fair few of you have seen this before!). Really feeling the concept of this video and track, which has heavily featured in my rotation for a while now! Go give it a watch for a left, and you can preorder the single below on iTunes.

Context MC – Drowning

The Game ft. Kendrick Lamar – The City [Video]

The standout track from Game’s last summer release The R.E.D. Album gets the visual treatment to superb effect.

A powerful cinematography accompanies the life of a youth making the wrong choices in the precarious world of gang culture. Interestingly Game holds his own in front of the camera and emanates that big personality we all know him for. As much as Kendrick spazzes out at the end and totally steals the show, the visuals here portray him in more the ‘apprentice’ styled role. Intentional or not, in light of the verses, a good move by Game’s people to retain at least a shade of credibility.

Reef the Lost Cauze – The Prey


Reef gives us some heartfelt bars on the subject of the fallen 17 year old Trayvon Martin who was fatally shot a few days back.

It’s always difficult to write on topics such as this, but it goes without saying that our thoughts at OTU go out to Trayvon’s friends and family across the pond.

Jon Connor – Soldier Freestyle


This is very apt for me right now as I’ve been bumping lots of early Em over the past few days (mainly SSLP and MMLP). Connor is one of the only emcees out right now that could come anywhere close to replicating the original. And by word does he. I can guarantee this will be on heavy repeat as his punchy bars perfectly compliment the menacing original Eminem instrumental. April 13th Jon drops The People’s Rapper LP which will see him going in over only Em beats. Definitely one to look out for.

R&B Fridays: Episode 142


It’s a little late this week, but with good reason as R&B Fridays is on a 2-week hiatus after this episode, due to ‘international commitments’ of the team.

Thankfully, it’s an episode to savour with two brand new contributions from series favourite Frank Ocean, in addition to a couple of other noteworthy artists getting involved. Three to catch up on from the week gone by, with Novel dropping off a bumper 19-track project, Teyana Taylor also getting in the mixtape hunt with her newest effort, and the second episode of our other weekly series, Sh*t You Forgot About. Head below.

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Nas - The Don


Nasty Nas returns with a heater! The Don has been causing waves amongst fans across Twitter, and it’s not hard to see why. Nas has been pretty quiet over the last few years, passion projects aside, so when a new track of his does emerge – people listen.

It’s great to hear Nas rap with such energy, there’s certainly been a void in hip hop without him; one hopes this is a sign of what is to come.

Kid Cudi-The Ruler and The Killer


If you enjoyed Cudi’s recent work as a part of WZRD, you’ll definitely appreciate this brand new effort from the upcoming Hunger Games soundtrack.

Dark, grungy and packed with an eerie, ominous quality that makes for a very addictive listen throughout, this is certainly an effort that deserves to soundtrack the film its set to. The track opens with a thudding percussion and sharp guitar work, creating an edgy and almost industrial feel, whilst Cudi’s hook furthers that by virtue of capturing the film’s dystopian vibe with some controlling lyrics. The verse work is melodic and delivered in a menacing manner that wraps around the instrumental nicely, and essentially serves its purpose of building to the hypnotising hook. A creepy, disturbed effort that definitely captures the essence of the film its made for.

Novel-Red Wine and Ambien Mixtape


Google tells me Ambien is a ‘prescription drug to cure insomnia’, so it’s not Novel misspelling ambient/ambience. Phew.

A vastly underrated and overlooked vocalist (and rapper), Novel comes through to spark life back into his career with this 19-track, two-part mixtape. He’s an excellent talent when everything clicks for him, and he’s played his chances well by surrounding himself with some top class producers here, including a man with an untouchable record of pop and R&B productions, Dallas Austin. Looking forward to giving this one a go, and hopefully it’ll jolt the R&B genre back to some sort of decent state. Free grab below.

Novel-Red Wine and Ambien

Wale, Meek Mill and Rick Ross-Ambition Video

The undisputed highlight of Wale’s Ambition album, this motivational number is an excellent choice to restart the Wale/MMG buzz.

As one of Wale’s better tracks to date, there’s pressure on the clip to deliver, and thankfully it does. The video opens with, and is mostly anchored around, a nightime cityscape, capturing the dark and moody elements of the audio very well, ensuring the true essence of the track is visualised appropriately. The verses contain some excellent semi-biographical sections too, with Meek Mill reflecting on his time back in his neighbourhood and Ross offering a rare glimpse of his personal life with some brief clips of life as a young upcomer. Wale closes things off with a mix of isolated and studio scenes, and it becomes apparent that his verse is incredibly thin subject-wise, in comparison to the more personal styles Meek and Ross go with, with his arrogant bars not quite fitting in with the general introspection of the song/video.

An enjoyable watch nonetheless, and a real standout track in Wale’s back catalogue. Grab it on iTunes now.

Wiz Khalifa-Taylor Allderdice Mixtape


Another project many were looking forward to, though certainly on a bigger scale than most as Wiz Khalifa returns to the mixtape scene with this effort.

The previous releases from this tape have generally been received well, and it appears some of the ill-feeling he bred for his ‘pop sellout’ Rolling Papers album is being clawed away with a return to a more hip-hop friendly style. Of course, there’s bound to be enough material to satisfy his new mainstream followers too, and I’d expect this to be a solid, well-rounded tape with some enjoyable chillout efforts that have become Wiz’s trademark in recent months. Free grab below.

Wiz Khalifa-Taylor Allderdice

Sh*t You Forgot About: Episode 2


We’re into our second week of what proved a popular new feature last week, and you’re in for another journey not too far down memory lane. I call it Recollection Avenue.

This genre-less weekly episodical seems like the perfect opportunity to mix things up, and whilst there’s still ‘normal’ stuff in there, feel free to indulge yourself with the two curveballs I’ve thrown in this week.

Last week you may recall Kid Cudi featuring heavily, and this week’s theme is…April 2009. I’ll be honest, it was more coincidental than anything.

Head on below deck if you’re ready.
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Calez-UltraSound

Brand new visuals from Calez’s Kid With Raps project, and on top of that it’s all filmed in the headquarters of our GWHH friends over in Chicago. Having been one of the first to recognise Calez’s talent, it’s a nice touch by those guys, and also a good look for our fellow talented reviewers to get some camera time.

It helps that it’s a decent track to set the clip to, with a real head-nodder of a production that boasts enough oomph to rattle your speakers, whilst Calez’s flows are sharp and certainly showcase his continued evolution. The video keeps things clear and uncomplicated, focusing mostly on Calez’s raps and confidence, which is undoubtedly a good move at this early stage in his career. Whilst more complex, ‘artsy’ videos may bring out the inner creativity, Calez is at a stage where he’s gaining acceptance for simply being the new rapper on the block, and hence it’s an effective visual in focusing on and projecting the audio.

Solid all-rounder, and it’s great to see both Calez and the GWHH boys get a nice shine here. Grab Kid With Raps for free right now.

Teyana Taylor-The Misunderstanding of Teyana Taylor Mixtape


A hotly anticipated mixtape from one of R&B’s rising starlets, Teyana Taylor comes through with a project that looks to capitalise on her ever-increasing buzz.

A few of the tracks we’ve heard from this were certainly enjoyable, including the Fabolous and Jadakiss-featured D.U.I., and the pressure is there for Teyana to deliver on the rest of the project. Her vocal talents are certainly not in question, and with the features otherwise sparse, you’ve got to hope she’s aligned herself with some good producers to capitalise on her skills. Free grab below.

Teyana Taylor-The Misunderstanding of Teyana Taylor Mixtape

Quick Throwback: Eyedea & Abilities – Now (2004)


A little something epic for everyone’s Sunday. Before Eyedea left this world in 2010, he was tearing it up with DJ Abilities in the underground circuit. Close friend of Atmosphere’s Slug and the inspiration behind Became, Now, is the standout track from their sophomore release E&A.

Although the instrumental on Now is to be admired for its complex layers, it’s really all about the lyricism on this. It’s the type of track you won’t just listen to once. In fact, whenever I bump this it’s on repeat for 5 times at least to fully appreciate Eyedea’s wordplay and rhyme scheme.