Audio Push-Come As You Are (Free Album)

audio push
They’re one of very few duos coming up in hip-hop, and whilst that makes them a rare commodity, beyond that novelty they’re an excellent act with plenty of potential. Their Inland Empire mixtape had some great tracks on it, and even if it lacked a little consistency it was a good showing.

This project comes with a ton of backing from their label boss Hit-Boy, who also serves as the project’s executive producer- whilst that’s clearly to be expected of their employer, his claim that the tape featured some of the best music he’s ever made (or something to that effect) is not one he’d likely be throwing around too easily. Features include Joey Bada$$, Wale, T.I., and labelmate K. Roosevelt amongst others, whilst Hit-Boy’s frequent co-production credits suggests the beat work will also be up to scratch. It’s a project that could very well see Audio Push move into a more prominent position in hip-hop, and in any case should prove a good listen for mainstream hip-hop heads. Free stream and download below.

Audio Push-Come As You Are

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Hit-Boy-Jay-Z Interview Pt. II (Video)

A year on from his debut solo release comes that track’s sequel, whereby Hit-Boy reflects on what’s been a huge 12 months for the rapper-producer.

The opening of this video, as fun as it is (and props for that Stepbrothers reference), actually sets the scene for the video well; it’s a clip that follows Hit-Boy’s journey in front of and behind the camera, as he moves around the world and through various projects achieving the plethora of personal milestones that the past year allowed him to. It’s a little disorienting at times with the quick scene changes, but I’d imagine that’s probably representative of his fast-moving lifestyle, and the highlight moments are certainly given enough time to be enjoyed in the video- in particular, the moment he receives his Grammy award is clearly a highlight point of the video that’s captured very well.

The track itself has Hit’s braggadocious, celebratory lyricism sat atop a production that’s got a relatively positive glint, but has an inescapably elegaic feel that adds a touch of sombreness to proceedings. The latter prevents the production from going full-blown upbeat, and whilst it’s another top beat from Hit-Boy, you wonder whether taking the lid off and going full-scale positive for the production would have worked with the video better. Nonetheless, a good audiovisual that’s worth a watch.

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Hit-Boy-Fan ft. 2 Chainz (Video)

One of the standout tracks from Hit-Boy’s HITstory project got a revamp for HS87′s All I Ever Dreamed Of, and it’s a rare example of a rework improving an already-superb track.

The production remains mostly intact, with that unique spin on the N****s In Paris melody (NIP was produced by Hit-Boy originally, of course) being a catchy and familiar listen, whilst Hit’s trademark talent with thick, attention-grabbing percussion layers supports that addictive melody and gives it distinction from its reference point. The sporadic touches of strings and synths also assist with making this a unique soundscape, with the mixture of subtle and overt deliveries adding good transitions where required. Along with a surprisingly likeable 2 Chainz verse added on, Hit’s re-recorded his own vocals, making for fresh listening to those who have played the original to death (me), and allowing him to take advantage of the tweaked beat.

The video takes place on a video/photoshoot, with Hit’s lady of interest working the set and rather quickly being won over. It’s a fun track with energy that wouldn’t have suited a full ‘story’, and hence the bright lights, rapid scene switches and uncomplicated nature brings out the track’s inherent positivity and energy, and also works as welcome camera time for the hugely underrated Hit-Boy. I’d be surprised if this single didn’t get some traction as it’s got the tools to be a mainstream favourite, and you can grab it on that HS87 tape now.

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Ryan McDermott-Joy ft. Hit-Boy (Video)

Since the release of this track, it’s been a permanent fixture in pretty much every playlist I use, and unquestionably it’s one that demonstrates why Kanye West saw fit to bring him on as a G.O.O.D. Music member (and also justifies his pick on my 13 for ’13).

As an extremely versatile track in terms of ideal listening environment, the direction of the video was rather flexible, and Ryan’s managed to pick a good direction for it. The production lends itself to a summery environment, and that’s provided throughout this clip, with plenty of ocean views, sandy beaches and a general brightness that captures the warmth of the track, whilst the emotional vocals and lyrics are visualised in the young child’s search and journey through several terrains. What’s notable is there’s a slight tempering of the video throughout, via both the hazy filter and relative lack of activity (in terms of ‘summer enjoyment’), and that culminates in the somewhat ambiguous and bittersweet ending. It’s a nice representation of the audio in terms of scenery, whilst the actions within add a different layer of depth to the vocal and lyrical work. A good watch, and hopefully a breakout single for Ryan.

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Funkmaster Flex-Who You Mad At? Me or Yourself? (Mixtape)

56 tracks. Seriously.

Fair play to Funk Flex for this though, as the lineup is unbelievable and essentially a snapshot of mainstream hip-hop at this moment in time. Appearances include A$AP Rocky, Joey Bada$$, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Childish Gambino, Fabolous, Action Bronson, Slaughterhouse, Young Jeezy and many, many more; for a full list, check out the back artwork over at Funk’s place. Many of the tracks from this tape have leaked out individually in the last 24 hours too, and thankfully they’re tagless versions, with one notable example being the Joey Bada$$ effort on the mixtape. If you’re after any of the other individual tracks, I’m sure a quick Google search can help you there, otherwise grab the bumper project for free below.

Funkmaster Flex-Who You Mad At? Me or Yourself?

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Hit-Boy presents HS87-All I've Ever Dreamed Of (Album)

I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks. As a fan of all four acts on the roster, there are certain to be plenty of strong tracks with longevity on this, with the first few tastes of the project (here and here) being better than most of the tripe hip-hop is producing these days.

For many, it’ll be a good introduction to the talents of Audio Push and K. Roosevelt, with the former being compared by many to the Clipse (a debate for another time), and the latter being one of the better all-round talents to emerge in recent months. You can stream it at the new MySpace, download it here. Your call.

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Hit-Boy-Cypher ft. Kent M$NEY, Audio Push, B Mac The Queen, SchoolBoy Q, Casey Veggies, Xzibit, Rick Ross, Method Man, Redman & Raekwon

hit boy
An incredible lineup here, for the latest single from HS87′s upcoming All I’ve Ever Dreamed Of album.

Over the last 2 years, there’s no doubt Hit-Boy has become one of the go-to producers in music (he’s proven himself as an MC too), and that’s clearly allowed him to bring these names together. Each rapper involved exchanges enjoyable short verses in true cypher style (no hook, of course), and each brings a definitively unique offering; arguably, no-one’s verse is delivered quite as distinctly as ScHoolboy Q’s here. His slightly offbeat raps certainly catch the ear, and though there are better verses in terms of flow consistency and lyrical output, with Raekwon being an obvious example, credit to Q for trying something different. Not sure why Ross gets a different production segment, but it’s a nice break from the throwback production that everyone else gets, though it does seem to give him a bit of an advantageous playing field. Nonetheless, a good slice of hip-hop with a very diverse collection of rappers who will keep this track interesting for many plays to come.

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Audio Push-Them N****s ft. Hit-Boy (Video)

Part of Hit-Boy’s HS87 label, Audio Push’s (who made my 13 for ’13) enjoyable Inland Empire tape dropped at the backend of 2012, with this track being the pick of the bunch. It’s also set to feature on the upcoming HS87 compilation album, All I’ve Ever Dreamed Of, and is a great choice to introduce listeners to the collective.

A mainstay of my playlists in recent months, this is the stuff you turn up loud and get a little wild with it. It’s lively, buzzing and energetic, with the intense Hit-Boy production (which has become one of my favourite beats of his) complementing the passionate raps of Oktane and Pricetag, who definitely shake off the Jerkin’ tag with this one. The stuttery nature and midtempo pacing helps to amplify the rapped work, as Hit-Boy opens with a slick, easygoing delivery before Audio Push step in and take the energy of the track through the roof, both with their likeable raps and highly animated performances. The anthemic hook caps things off on the audio, whilst the video’s general desolation, darkness and lavish touches give the performers a clean, rarely distracting backdrop to work in front of. Great audio, solid video and be on the lookout for that album on Tuesday.

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Ryan McDermott-Joy ft. Hit-Boy

ryan mcd joy
He was one of the more surprise inclusions (supposedly) on my 13 for ’13 list, mostly because he’s not released a great deal of material, but he’s come through with his second single that’s already getting plenty of buzz.

The production blends a reflective, wistful vibe with an infusion of lively, traditional elements for a beat with plenty of depth. The combination of hypnotic tribal vocal samples, atmospheric synths and a collection of sharp instruments (including what sounds like a xylophone) makes for engaging listening, and it’s almost puzzle-esque as you’ll catch a new sound with each play. His vocals talents are what originally brought him to my attention, and they’re flexed superbly here, with verses that progress smoothly in terms of intensity and emotion, building smartly to a rousing, empassioned hook that anchors the song nicely. It’s a track that moves really smoothly throughout, and throw the solid Hit-Boy verse into the mix and it’s a very good all-rounder that should be a breakout single for the G.O.O.D. Music vocalist.

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Hit-Boy-Brake Lights (Video)

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.

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Kendrick Lamar-Backseat Freestyle (Video)

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.

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Wale-Folarin (Mixtape)

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.


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Hit-Boy-East vs. West

It was only yesterday I said that this guy can do no wrong at the minute, and whilst I said that in the context of his production work, I overlooked how consistently enjoyable his recent solo material has been.

If you grabbed his HITstory mixtape you’ll be familiar with this ode to 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G., and if you didn’t you’re about to get a very good reason to grab that mixtape. The production combines a piercing percussion and lively horns with a vintage feel, the latter giving the beat a reflective vibe whilst the former keeps things ticking over briskly. Hit’s really beginning to hold his own as a rapper, and this is a very likeable piece of storytelling that demonstrates some solid flows and a real confidence and intelligence about the way he handles hip-hop.

The video is easy viewing, with Hit rapping in front of Biggie and Pac montages whilst outfitting himself in a similar manner to each of them when doing so, interspersed with scenes of him flicking through old vinyls at a record store. It’s a clip and audio that feel hip-hop through and through, with a warming throwback quality. As Hit puts it, ‘this that shit y’all don’t hear no more‘. Grab this on the mixtape at the above link.

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Kendrick Lamar-Backseat Freestyle

good kid, m.A.A.d city is only 6 days away, and Kendrick fires out a track from the project to whet appetites ahead of that album release. If that wasn’t enough to interest you, know that hip-hop’s in-form producer Hit-Boy is the man that helms this one.

The production is shrill, clanky and packed full of speaker-rattling bass, making for one that has a slightly more underground hip-hop flavour than Kendrick’s choices of late. The switch in style means Kendrick adjusts his delivery slightly, with his work being much more intense and powerful, particularly in aggressive bursts scattered throughout the track. The laidback Kendrick (and most rappers, in truth) would be engulfed by this production, but Kendrick switches things skilfully to command the beat well. As of late, Hit-Boy and Kendrick can seemingly do no wrong, and for the latter that’s a great sign with the LP on the horizon.

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Hit-Boy-Old School Caddy ft. Kid Cudi (Video)

Topshelf Junior are developing quite the reputation as far as music videos go, and here they come together with Hit-Boy to direct his newest release from the recent HITstory mixtape.

The track has been a recent favourite of mine, and whilst the video won’t necessarily add anything new to the experience, it’s a decent watch that works well with the track. Mostly featuring shots of Hit-Boy rapping, the surrounding summer scenery fits nicely with the upbeat nature of the audio, whilst it’s also great to see Cudi back on the music video scene, performing his verse with the trademark charisma and magnetism that’s been sorely missed. You can grab this likeable track on the aforementioned mixtape for free.

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Hit-Boy-HITstory Mixtape

This has got to be one of the most buzzed about mixtapes in recent months. Hit’s recent turn (back) to rapping has garnered plenty of approval both within the industry and with the fans, and this marks his first full release since making that shift.

The first track, Jay-Z Interview, won a huge amount of people over, whilst the recent Old School Caddy featuring Kid Cudi wasn’t without its charms either. Two more of the G.O.O.D. Music family are in for assists here as Big Sean and John Legend make appearances, alongside Bun B, Stacy Barthe and Chip Tha Ripper, setting Hit up with plenty of assists to deliver the goods on this 11-track project. Free grab available belowover at Hit-Boy’s house.


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Hit-Boy-Old School Caddy ft. Kid Cudi

After the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the N***** In Paris producer’s debut rap single, Jay-Z Interview, Hit-Boy comes through with the follow-up and grabs the recently-reclusive Kid Cudi for an assist.

The aforementioned single drew plenty of comparisons with an early Kanye West, both for the transition from rapper to producer to rapper/producer, and for the Hit’s rapping style throughout. This should set him apart a little more however, as Hit’s flow is much more compact and pacey, displaying a surprising level of skill throughout. The raps themselves are decent enough throughout, working well with the speedy yet contemplative production, though they’d benefit from a little more emotion. Cudi does a great job with his cameo, bringing a high-paced verse of his own that’s got a couple of nice repeatables and rides along well with the production. Another good track from Hit-Boy, and let’s hope he keeps this form up.

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A$AP Rocky-Goldie

Second A$AP blast of the day, and this one comes straight from Rocky’s upcoming debut album, LongLiveA$AP, with Rocky dropping off the first single today as promised.

Picking up from where LiveLoveA$AP left off, Rocky once again relies heavily on his style over substance, keeping things relatively uncomplicated and riding the Hit-Boy production crisply and with confidence, without ever really breaking a sweat. The beat is definitely a grower, thanks in part to a bevvy of small nuances that become more apparent with each listen, but mostly due to Hit-Boy’s hypnotising drum work and addictively airy melodies combining to good effect, whilst the bass snakes through various different ‘moods’ with great skill. A$AP Rocky’s key skill is his synergistic connection with an instrumental, and this is another fine example of that, with arguably more replayability than some of his back catalogue thanks to an instrumental that improves with every listen.

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