I was a big fan of Floco’s Catch Me, and having slacked a little on his material since, allow me to make up for that with this excellent cut from his upcoming joint EP with Infinite Quest, titled Celebratory Screams, Childhood Dreams.
A crunching percussion will win over many immediately, with the live drums making for a clean and crisp opening that sets the track up nicely, before soft melodies join the fray along with Floco’s energetic raps. Despite the production being a simple, thoroughly excellent listen, it’s Floco’s raps that reel me in here: his delivery is commendably clear (it’s surprising how hard you have to work to properly hear some MCs), the lyricism is hopeful and has a good storytelling angle, with each verse progressing through his journey to and evening in the city, and the track coming to a crawl at the end as his evening closes in a drunken state.
It’s an unfussy and relatable track, facets which extend to the video courtesy of everyday shots, from train journeys to walking around the streets at night, and of course the aftermath of a night out. Floco’s energy and enthusiasm once again permeate the screen to cap off a great audiovisual, one with a completeness belying his underground status.
He’s considered a mainstream rapper, but I can’t help but feel that Loso does get rather slept on in that category. He churns out far better material than many of his peers, most of which has a much wider appeal than the mainstream box he’s placed in.
Whilst this clearly appeals to the pop audience via the feature, it’s not one to be discounted by the rest of us, particularly as Chris Brown is quite good here: his hook is fairly gentle and unlike his usual chart-targeted work, rather being slightly closer to his ’09-’10 feature work, and hence it’s a good contribution from him. Loso’s easygoing voice is a great fit for the slow, sultry R&B-style production, and though a track of this nature isn’t going to win anyone over with lyrical or structural brilliance, Loso’s still packed in a couple of those trademark witty lines and adds some liveliness to proceedings with his consistent flow. Shame that he’s Autotuned himself a little in places, but outside of that it’s a mainstream jam that’s better than most in its category.
If TDE’s members are to be believed, 2013 is going to be all about Ab-Soul and ScHoolboy Q. This was one of the standout cuts from Ab’s Control System album, and certainly one that garnered plenty of attention across hip-hop courtesy of his labelmate attaching his name to this.
Ab’s lyricism veers between confident, humble, biographical and even somewhat altruistic at times, displaying his versatility as a rapper and packaging those raps into an intense and hungry delivery that adds plenty of gravitas. That Kendrick verse is a great addition too, his introspective style fitting well with the spaced-out, atmospheric production, and there’s no doubt this is a mighty fine slice of hip-hop from start to finish.
The visual is both engaging and relatively simple, with a very dark, almost-underworldly style that plays on the aura of the production well, with shots of dilapidated buildings, personal close-ups in dim lighting, and rapid shifts from scene-to-scene that create a slight sense of unease. There’s a ton of messaging packed into here too, a favourite being the surveillance-esque footage of Kendrick being driven through a dead street, indicative of his status as ‘everyone’s MC to watch’ in an alarmingly-empty hip-hop scene, and I’m sure you’ll find plenty more worth noting. An engrossing watch and a good track.
Why he’s chosen to spell jewellery that way will forever annoy me, but I can’t be mad at grabbing a whole 12 new tracks from the Chef.
In the months building to this he’s put out a few freestyles over old-school beats, and not necessarily hip-hop ones either, though it appears they’re not on this so this is a project with more new work than most expected. Features are minimal, with Faith Evans, Maino, Freddie Gibbs and Altrina Renee bringing their talents to the table, whilst the board work has Statik Selektah, Scram Jones and Buckwild amongst others. Looking forward to giving this a run-through, and you can do so yourself for free with the grab below.
I’ve not been massive on Rockie’s material since his move to MMG, but this is definitely the best cut I’ve heard from his upcoming Electric Highway album, timed wonderfully given its due for release on Monday.
The production’s a nice blend of soulful and modern, with a soft vocal sample combining with strong strings, heavy-hitting percussion and vibrant synths for an upbeat production that carries the track along a wave of triumph and positivity. Ross opens with a solid if somewhat predictable verse, though it sounds signficantly fresher (pun not intended) on this lively backdrop, whilst Rockie’s on both the hook and the second verse with a good contribution that will enamour many to his cause. Frequent MMG collaborator (and oft-rumoured to sign with the label) Nipsey Hu$$le’s got the closing and highlight verse here, adjusting his flow to be a tiny bit offbeat and hence sound markedly different to his peers on the track, and it’s another good performance from one of hip-hop’s underrated acts. Nice all-rounder.
A radio rip landed a couple of days ago, but the full version has thankfully surfaced-you put the legendary Premo alongside the best newcomer in the rap game and it’s essential to listen to it properly.
The production has the Premo hallmarks over it, with a surface simplicity that conceals a depth of production worth appreciating, from the soft keys haunting the background to the beautifully clean bass thuds, and of course those trademark Premier scratches. It’s the sort of throwback beat that Joey’s thrived on in the last year or so, and whilst its still difficult to believe how young Joey is, this is another mature performance to add to his growing collection. The raps are consistent and unrelenting in the verses, with Joey’s steady flow and lack of over-emphasis giving his words gravitas and seriousness, playing off the more reflective elements of the production well, whilst the hook is still a rapped one with no illusions, instead being filled with harsh realities and a somewhat bleak outlook. An excellent slice of hip-hop that the heads will be giving plenty of time.
The accompanying Tweet to this said ‘LES video for those who didn’t catch the concerts’, so I assume this was played during performances of the fantastic track on recent tours.
I go back and forth, but this is probably my favourite song from Camp. The combination of those absolutely superb strings, the soft hook and the punchy verses makes for a trifecta of excellence, and a track that’s easy to play over and over again.
The video is a very nice accompaniment, and though Gambino doesn’t feature outside of a brief and rather steamy cameo (props if you spot it), it’s a nice capture of the very New York area that the song is titled after. Hipsters aplenty, there’s a nice personal feel about the whole thing, capturing people within their element in various locations, whether its a concert, eaterie, taxi or any other spot, it’s a good look into a few nights around the Lower East Side, and almost gives the whole place a rather relatable, homely feel. That vibe is mostly borne out of the fact its pretty much unfiltered in terms of the footage: shops closed for the taxi, traffic, and various other non-glamorous entities crop up throughout, whilst the fantastic quality of the actual footage is also a factor in making the clip feel like a snapshot of reality. Good all-round clip for a great song.
Whilst it’s naive to suggest this is anything other than a label attempt at getting Rocky to make a pop-friendly single, it’s good to see two artists of such different backgrounds and styles come together. A bonus track found on the deluxe edition of Rocky’s Long.Live.A$AP album, due out on Tuesday, this is one that should enhance his crossover appeal.
The Florence hook isn’t quite at her soaring best, and that’s not strictly a bad thing-keeping the lid on prevents this from straying too far into mainstream style, and ensures that there isn’t too huge a discrepancy between the sombre verses and her naturally emotive work. The production throws together a clunky, industrial percussion with nice clean bass thuds, and a couple of rather monotonous synths for a beat that’s nothing beyond average, surprising given Rocky’s ear for production. That lack of any particularly engaging element translates into the raps, as he seems to go through the motions in terms of his delivery, though his lyrical focus on a relationship with a particular female makes for a nice change of topic from his usual arrogant raps, and there’s definitely credit deserved there. As an entirety, it’s not anything that ever gets out of second gear, but probably one the pop fans will enjoy.
For months we’ve had her remixes of other artists’ tracks, and there’s been a growing demand for some original work: rarely one to disappoint, Eve delivers the brand new single from her upcoming Lip Lock album.
The production pens up in a heavily dub/electro-inspired style, before breaking down into a much heavier hip-hop beat, with a commanding bass accompanied by an alternating and chaotic choice of claps, electronic synths, and of course the heavy vocal sample on the hook. The latter anchors the track excellently, allowing Eve’s verses to wrap around it smoothly and being short enough to give us plenty of fresh Eve raps; she delivers with a range of typically razor sharp flows, whilst her supreme confidence is stitched into every line. Naturally, it’s not lyrical wizardry, but it’s a track full of an energy and vibrance that reflects someone who’s refreshed and ready to take her rightful place back.
The video plays on the frenetic nature of the audio with plenty of bright, dynamic visual effects on a dark background, with Eve almost a task to find on occasion. Intended to keep you focused on her I’m sure, and it’s a video that supports the audio well enough. Look out for more Eve soon.
The official remix was originally rumoured to be a 17-track posse cut, but it looks like Trini has just called on his fellow Atlanta to help out instead, with three of the city’s heaviest hitters lending verses to his breakout single.
T.I. opens up with the highlight verse, his stuttered flow being a nice change in style for him, and standing out alongside those on this. Jeezy opens with plenty of potential with his rough voice being a great fit for the beat, before reverting to Trinidad’s flow which arguably pulls his verse down slightly, though he recovers as it goes on. 2 Chainz is sweeping up and whilst you’d think this is a beat perfectly suited to him, he instead proves he’s not got much to him, and instead helps to answer the Trinidad James dilemma: why is he so replayable? He’s committed to his ‘character’, whereas 2 Chainz hovers between a Trini type and trying to prove he can rap, leaving him in a bad grey area. Nice to get new verses on this beat though, the original’s fans will enjoy this.
That HITstory mixtape keeps delivering good material, as Hit comes through with some solid visuals for the newest single.
Many felt this was the standout track from the tape, and it’s hard to disagree. Imagine Kanye West’s Flashing Lights sped up and infused with keys, and you’re pretty close to the backdrop created here, with Hit’s combination of synths, electronic samples and thudding percussion making for a beat that you’ll play over and over. It’s atmospheric and slightly dark with a sense of introspectiveness, something Hit capitalises on with an internal monologue (of sorts), as he confesses to himself that he’s over-indulging somewhat, whilst also reflecting on his backstory.
The video is a G.O.O.D. Music affair, with Travis Scott directing the visual for his labelmate, and he captures the mood excellently with a dimly-lit, slow-paced video that makes the most of the audio’s qualities: the heavy use of blue complements the cold, atmospheric aspects of the beat whilst the flashes of warmer colours give the occasionally-insightful lyricism some urgency and depth. The only shots we properly see of Hit are either in his car rolling around, or surrounded by smoke looking despondent, visualising the dichotomy of his lyricism and again adding to that reflective quality. Good audiovisual, and be sure to grab the mixtape now.
Sourmilk and Justin Credible (props to those who associate that name with the old wrestler) have built up quite the name for themselves over the last couple of years as the LA Leakers, and their status as pre-eminent West Coast DJs is verified with this collection of unreleased tracks and remixes from some huge names.
Ryan Leslie, Wale, Pac Div, A$AP Rocky and Problem are amongst the established names contributing, whilst Ryan McDermott, Audio Push and Trinidad James are part of the very talented and/or popular upcomers featured here. For the mainstream and middle-ground hip-hop heads, there’s no reason you wouldn’t be grabbing this and I’ll delay you no further-head below for the free stream and grab.
I had a lot of time for Azad after being put on to a couple of his freestyles last year, but admittedly I’ve not kept pace with his releases since. Here however, he’s commanding attention by grabbing the talented Shlohmo to helm the production on his latest single, and the combination of the two is promising.
Shlohmo’s dark production style on his remix of Drake’s Crew Love improved that song immeasurably, and established him as a talented producer at creating such atmospheric soundscapes. He delivers again here, with a bassy percussion joined by sharp vocal samples and deep synths for another gloomy beat that makes for an excellent backdrop to work with. Admittedly, Azad’s lyricism is a more pop-oriented than this sort of production deserves, but there are no complaints about his deliveries as he cycles through a few different rap flows alongside harmonising for the catchy hook, and a touch more intricacy in his writing would have made this a more memorable performance. With that said, the chosen style is undoubtedly more accessible to a mainstream audience, and who can blame him for chasing that; more of this, and he might just have them in the bag.
One of the tracks we received in advance of the full good kid, m.A.A.d city album release, and it still remains one of the highlights on the fantastic LP.
The Hit-Boy production is aggressive and full of intensity, making for a style that sits apart from the more obviously introspective work on the album, but of course still slides into its storytelling nature nicely. Kendrick’s peformance matches the production’s vibe, delivering a much more ‘typical’ rap performance that’s laced with a hint of urgency and hostility, and that more widely-accepted style of rap comes across in the video.
Rather than the metaphorical route several of his previous videos have rightfully chosen, this strips things back and goes for a gritty, ghetto-focused visual that encapsulates the nature of the audio excellently: from the inclusion of the amusing skit of his father and his Domino’s to the monochrome shots of Kendrick’s hood and home, there’s an inherent realism that ties to the typical hip-hop cues (including a scantily clad Sherane) for a video that will probably get some good mainstream exposure. A fitting video for a track still getting heavy rotation.
A collection of unreleased or obscure Jean Grae rap tunes. There’s some sweet little backstories on the songs as well. It’s on there when ya get em. I always give away free music, you guys say you’ll pay for stuff.
Jean seems to be gearing up for some more regular releases this year, and starts things off with a collecton of loosies from 2004-2010. Her releases in recent times have been somewhat sporadic, with the odd track here, video there and of course the occasional mixtape, so it’s good to have her starting the year off with 10 unreleased tracks, a precursor to her upcoming LP. Stream it for free below, and be sure to support and buy the album if you’re a fan.
My word, this has unbelievable potential. Mash-up mixtapes are one thing, but when helmed by the veteran talent that is 9th Wonder, you know it’s going to be coated with a professionalism that trumps most other projects of this kind. Add to that the concept of blending the entire American Gangster album with some fantastic old-school pop and soul works, this becomes a must-have mixtape.
Those vintage inclusions feature such names as Curtis Mayfield, The Jackson 5, Kool & The Gang alongside more, whilst also seemingly retaining the original’s guest appearances. A combination that promises much, and you can grab the entire project for free below.
A double whammy for you from Fabolous, with the official visuals being released mere hours after R-Les came through with his contribution to the track from Fab’s Soul Tape 2, which you can grab for free over here.
Big fan of the production, with the soul vocal sample complementing the thudding percussion and uplifting synth work well, the combination giving the beat a roundedness that makes this a great contender for a single. The style of production is a great fit for both artists, with Loso’s laidback delivery riding along smoothly on this, before Pusha’s more aggressive style offers a nice contrast to the former’s flows. The lyricism of both is focused around both their lavish lives and inherent ‘street ways’, facets which are both represented in the audio: luxurious vehicles, art collections and such sit alongside the less glamorous graffitied walls, though there’s clearly more emphasis on the richer elements of their lives throughout. It’s not a clip breaking any new ground, but it fits the audio well enough and that’s about all you can ask for from this sort of track.
Ryan Leslie’s focus on his rap work continues here with a verse tacked onto the front of this. A solid remix with a couple of OK lines, and whilst not hugely notable it’s a listenable nonetheless: Check that one out here.
Before meeting Reef at OTU’s debut live gig last December, I hadn’t really listened to much of his music. It wasn’t because I deliberately ignored it, but frankly it was a branch of hip-hop that my cohorts Murray and Chris had covered, and hence I hadn’t really immersed myself in it. After meeting him and watching him perform however (and finding him to be one of the most humble, likeable people in hip-hop history), that changed and I’ve enjoyed the sporadic bursts of material he’s let fly in the year since.
This tape’s got 16 tracks of new material, and the brief listen I gave it suggests that hip-hop fans who had once done the same as me and overlooked the talented MC should do so no longer, with a collection of enjoyable and stylistically varied beats supporting Reef’s unquestionable gift as a rapper. 16 free tracks from one of the underground’s finest is rarely an offer you should pass up, and the stream and grab are available below.
Time to catch up on some more bits that have dropped over this Christmas period. The official stream for Rocky’s debut album title track was put out a short while ago, and that’s followed up with these visuals ahead of that 15th January release date.
Rocky’s video work is generally enjoyable, and this is one that seems to capture the audio absolutely perfectly. The monochromatics add a sense of unease to the video, one which plays on the song’s production to bring out an urgent, dark and almost horror-esque quality, and that all impacts on the activities that take place: from the woman oddly creeping out of a bathtub to Rocky’s general setting surrounded by static TVs flashing unusual (but lyrically contextual) message, there’s almost a hidden, underworldly feel to this. The now-customary ‘illuminati’ cues are all in there too, along with occasional blurring effects, and both serve to enhance that unknown, devilishly mystical vibe that encases the video, and drag the audio along with it to give it a slightly different spin. Watchable for sure, and credit to Rocky for trying something unexpected with this.
Along with Hit-Boy, this guy’s been one of the legitimate breakout stars in the production world over the last 18 months, and here he collates some of his more well-known beats alongside some brand new original material for a massive 25-track free release.
The track’s he’s produced for others include names such as Rihanna, Future, Kelly Rowland and B.o.B, whilst his original additions to the tape benefit from some rather popular guests, including Young Jeezy, Chief Keef, Jim Jones and many more. Whether you’re a fan of his beat style or not, I’m sure there’ll be a few heavy-hitting party joints on this one to add to those new year playlists. Stream and download below at your leisure.
One of a whole host of projects that got released over these past few days, but arguably the most anticipated in more mainstream circles. There’s nothing like a bit of mixtape Wale, and whilst it’s a shame that the division exists between the album and mixtape work, the sheer depth in quantity of his mixtapes makes his lesser work a bit easier to ignore.
This one comes in at a huge 21 tracks, with over half of them featuring some rather notable names: look out for contributions from Jhene Aiko, 2 Chainz, man of the moment Trinidad James, labelmates Rick Ross and French Montana, and many more. The diversity of the features suggests that this will be packed with a good variety of styles, and that’s also evident in the producer lineup, featuring Nottz, Diplo, Apple Juice Kid and Key Wane amongst others. Plenty to suggest this will be worth a go, and the grab is free below.
Joey Bada$$ and his Pro Era crew close what was a fantastic breakthrough year for them with this brand new collection of material. Whilst it’s always great to have new Joey, his running mates are hugely overlooked for their contribution to his various tracks, and the sporadic material some of them have been involved in has also been enjoyable work.
Joey recently scored another big feature with his appearance on A$AP Rocky’s posse cut 1 Train, and the Pro Era boys look to have kept their own feature list to a minimum here, instead offering the track space internally and giving them the most possible exposure. There are some notable guest producers though, including Statik Selektah, Lee Bannon and Brandun DeShay, whilst the entire thing is executive produced by Joey himself, and hopefully that means we get his distinctively 90s-inspired sound all over this. Free grab below.
Yes please. Lupe commandeers Common’s Communism instrumental for a quick blast freestyle, designed to promote his web store (can you guess the URL?) ahead of his ‘Twitter account relaunch’ early next year.
Arguably, this is an overlooked track in Common’s stacked back catalogue, and credit to Lupe for bringing this back to the fore. Lupe’s flows are on-point throughout this, switching deliveries a couple of times to good effect, whilst not losing any of his witty wordplay. As ever, there are social commentaries, observations and plenty more in there with a couple of t-shirt plugs, and it’s a freestyle you can’t help but want more of. Parts of his recent Food & Liquor 2 album were excellent, and this is another thoroughly likeable track to add to those standouts. Lupe back?
If the world ends tomorrow, damn. I would be mad as shit for 2 reasons. First, I’m not with my family. That would suck. What would also be wack is if I never got to drop this song. Summer of 08′. A few special songs I made that summer haven’t dropped yet. This is one of them. Some of the most fun I ever had making a record. Alone in my room, making the beat, writing the raps, Jammin to this. Here we are, Years Later, and right on time. Enjoy
Superb release from J. Cole last night, taken from arguably the highlight period of his career so far, the time around The Warm Up. The production is lightning fast and almost unlike anything we’ve caught Cole on, with a rapid fire percussion driving this track through at a blistering pace, whilst the light synth in the verses adds a touch of depth. The horn work in the hook is an excellent addition, taking a bit of the sting out of that drum line and adding in a bright, uplifting quality. Cole’s raps keep pace excellently throughout, with watertight flows and a generally positive angle that capitalises nicely on the production’s vibe. Good all-rounder that’ll inject some energy into any playlist.
It’s now common knowledge that Rocky’s debut album sprung a very early leak this week, and it seems the response is to let the album’s intro loose for a free stream.
For those avoiding the early leak, this is a good gateway into the album. The thudding bass and intense soundscape are reminiscent of several productions from the A$AP Mob’s mixtape, whilst the rather more gentle yet somewhat haunting hook balances that out with the style of Rocky’s LiveLoveA$AP tape. It’s a solid effort without being enormously spectacular. The beat makes it one worth some time turned up loud, but the raps aren’t hugely notable, and in places are almost directly repeated from previous tracks, and hence it’s not going to get any long-term play time. Still, worth a listen.
Appropriately-titled given that we’re all meant to die today, but Busta and his crew have put those apocalyptic concerns aside to drop this 17-track mixtape.
These days, I’m not climbing over anyone to get my hands on new Busta, but there’s some potential here. Plenty of recognisable beats are included, with Kendrick’s Poetic Justice, Backseat Freestyle and A$AP Rocky’s Problems on the tracklist with many others, whilst features include Q-Tip and DJ Khaled. Free stream and grab below.
Some more lively work from Wale, and with that Folarin mixtape due in just a few days on Christmas Eve, it’s one that’ll get his fanbase excited for that release.
The production is upbeat, uplifting and everything in between, with a bright melody that’s complemented well by percussion that runs in and out of a few different styles, driving the track along skilfully. Wale’s raps fit right along too, with a positive inflection that adds an affable quality to his bragger raps, whilst his flows are tightly-packed throughout. Nothing massively new, but a solid all-round jam: no hooks, just straight rapping in a positive vibe, and that’s never a bad thing.
Around October, I was put on to Trinidad James. Of course, it didn’t take long for me to typecast him as just another gold-flaunting, pointless rapper. But I went in for another listen just to make sure. And another. And another.
There’s just something there. Maybe its his throwback recklessness or simply a strange curiosity, but All Gold Everything is just unskippable for me. Whilst its the swagger-laden hook that makes this the breakout hit its becoming, the beat’s got plenty of knock and bounce too and Cons grabs that instrumental for a quick and enjoyable remix. Naturally, the verses are better than the original in terms of technique and wordplay, but Cons doesn’t really have that inherent ostentatiousness that makes Trini’s version so appealing. Worth a go anyway, and I’m sure this won’t be the last remix we get of this track.
One of the two singles Cudi’s let loose from the Indicud album, set for a release next year, and Cudi keeps the album’s buzz going with its second video in six weeks.
Admittedly, I haven’t given the track a great deal of play time since its release. Whilst the Ratatat-inspired production is a nice touch, first impressions were a little misleading as the track seemed to be a little schizophrenic: the positive verses don’t quite work with the slightly dark production, though independently they’re good elements.
With that said, the video’s likeable as it not only plays on that dichotomy, but serves to improve the effectiveness of the audio. The eerie, grim backdrop the video’s set on amplifies the darker side of the production, whilst Cudi’s bright outfit and natural charisma contrast that, and offer a visualisation of the motivational and uplifting lyricism. The video doesn’t have much of a theme otherwise, with the clip being solely a performance of the track, but its visual style certainly helps the audio and makes the audio’s duality a much more likeable concept. Indicud coming soon.