Lloyd Banks-F.N.O. (Failure's No Option) (Mixtape)

If you’re lacking that little bit of bite on your car playlist, or you just want something to make a screwface too, Lloyd Banks is your man. His mixtape work over the last few years has been impeccable in that sense, serving up powerful, speaker-rattling beats under his gristly, versatile raps on a fairly consistent basis. That being said, he’s quietened slightly this year, but pulls through in the final quarter with this overdue mixtape release.

Features are minimal, and that’s just fine. Appearances from Raekwon, Vado and Styles P are about as far as it goes, and across 16 tracks that gives Banks plenty of breathing space to once again show his worth and remind all who are smart enough that he’s about the only G-Unit member left with any shred of relevance in hip-hop (yeah, I said it). He has a sound, he knows what it is, and that’s to be respected- many rappers get caught up in whatever today’s fad is, and tend to leave behind their core competencies, to the point that they never truly recover them. Banks can’t be accused of that, and hopefully, this project will reinforce that belief whilst providing us with some head-nodding hip-hop jams to unashamedly throw up unecessary gang signs to. You do it. Don’t lie.

Lloyd Banks-F.N.O.

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Lloyd Banks-Drop A Diamond ft. Raekwon

Whilst I’ve proclaimed I’m listening to very little hip-hop these days, one act has endured this and remains a fixture within my go-to playlist. That man is Lloyd Banks, whose mixtape work gets regular play in my car and house, and though he’s been very quiet this year, this release is hopefully a sign that more new work is on the way.

The production is a great mix between opulence and speaker-rattling, throwing together rather gentle, easygoing piano work and bassy, driving percussion for a contrasting blend that works rather well. Not to say either of them suffer with any particular type of production, but it’s the sort of beat that really does suit both acts, allowing them to play up their lavish lifestyles whilst giving them enough hard-hitting elements to still have the gritty factor that sets the two apart. Whilst Banks’ raspy tones are indeed a good fit for the production, it’s probably Rae that swings this one, purely for his slightly offbeat flow and more dulcet tone adding a controlled sense of ‘I literally do not care about you’, and hence makes for entertaining listening. Hopefully, that A.O.N. Vol. 1: Failure’s No Option mixtape is coming soon.

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Statik Selektah-Extended Play (Full Album Stream)

With an incredible number of collaborations, joint albums, productions for other artists and much more under his belt, one of hip-hop’s hardest working men is gearing up to release his 5th solo studio album next Tuesday (18th).

It’s been fun watching Statik’s reputation grow from a bubbling-under producer to one of hip-hop’s premiere acts behind the boards, and it appears most of the genre feel the same way; features are beyond plentiful here, with appearances from Raekwon, Joey Bada$$, Black Thought, Talib Kweli, Blu, Joell Ortiz, Mac Miller, Flatbush Zombies, Bun B, Prodigy, Action Bronson and many, many more in what is a fantastically-stacked lineup. Of course, there are several producers/DJs who tend to get a slew of guest spots on their albums (Khaled, Drama etc.) but given their tendency to hire predominantly mainstream or ‘pop rappers’, it’s refreshing to get Statik projects that are generally full to the brim with MCs that do the genre justice. Stream the full project over at NPR below, and be sure to support next week if you’re a fan.

Statik Selektah-Extended Play (Album Stream)

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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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Yelawolf-Trunk Muzik Returns (Mixtape)

Despite my public anticipation for this project, it slipped through the cracks slightly when it landed on Thursday. My mistake, but here goes the latest effort from a man who on his day is very, very entertaining.

We’ve already caught a couple of solid tracks from this, and the signs point towards a darker brand of music, one which should suit Yela rather well and makes for a welcome change. Aside from the already-released A$AP Rocky and Big Henry features, Raekwon, Killer Mike and Paul Wall make appearances here, leaving Yela to enjoy some solo spotlight on 7 of the 10 tracks. Good move at a stage where he’s trying to really get his spot in hip-hop nailed down, and you can judge the success of that attempt with the stream and download below.

Yelawolf-Trunk Muzik Returns

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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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Big Sean-24k of Gold Remix ft. Raekwon and J. Cole

Raekwon’s not shy when it comes to collaborating with G.O.O.D. Music’s roster, and here he laces Big Sean’s cut from his Detroit mixtape, one which already benefitted from the J. Cole assist.

The laidback, positive nature of the original made it a very easy listen on the mixtape’s release, and whilst its been one of the project’s more enduring tracks as a result, this refresh helps bring it back to regular rotation for sure. As unlikely as it seems, Rae’s rough, gritty voice seems to work quite well with this sprightly production, adding a layer of hushed aggressiveness and intensity that seems to humanise the otherwise-hopeful, ‘head in the clouds’ nature of the track, and it’s a good contribution that improves the track. Annoying that there are DJ tags on this, but as it’s from producer Key Wane’s most recent mixtape, that’s to be expected.

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DJ Kay Slay-Grown Man Hip-Hop pt. 2 (Mixtape)

Normally DJ’s mixtapes/albums are ones to avoid for me, and I’ve never been massive on Kay Slay’s material anyway, but the features on this do make it worth at least a brief look.

Raekwon, Busta Rhymes, Styles P, Bun B, Joell Ortiz, Jay Rock and Saigon are just a handful of the names appearing here, and at the very least its good to get verses from that collective. Excluding the intro and outro, there are 19 tracks on this too, so probabilities suggest there should be at least a couple of gems buried in there somewhere. Nothing I’m going to rush to listen to, but still worth grabbing for free below.

DJ Kay Slay-Grown Man Hip-Hop pt. 2

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Raekwon-Lost Jewlry EP

raekwon lost
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.

Raekwon-Lost Jewlry EP

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Raekwon-Who Shot Ya Freestyle

When The Chef speaks, we listen. He’s set to drop off a brand new EP early next year, titled Lost Jewellery, and in advance of that comes through with a freestyle over the classic Notorious B.I.G. instrumental.

Put a veteran rapper over a vintage instrumental and you’re guaranteed success. Rae treats this beat with the respect it deserves, coming through with watertight flows and calm raps with aggresive lyricism, whilst those soft and ominous key notes of the beat are right in line with the dark, intense vibe he prefers. No hooks, just 2 minutes of straight rapping from the Wu-Tang Clan member, and this is a great addition to any hip-hop playlist.

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The Man With The Iron Fists Soundtrack (Full Album Stream)

One of the most buzzed-about film soundtracks in quite some time, RZA’s massive all-star lineup has really upped the hype for what actually looks to be a decent film regardless. We’ve caught various individual releases from this, including the throwback stylings of Kanye West’s White Dress and a punchy collaboration between Joell Ortiz, Pusha T and Raekwon, whilst many others have dripped out too.

Wait no longer for the rest, as you can stream and buy it right now. With the rest of the OST including the likes of The Black Keys, Wiz Khalifa, Idle Warship, Corinne Bailey Rae and of course the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan, there’s undoubtedly a great mix of genres here to suit all. Stream and purchase the entire thing right here, right now.

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Pusha T, Raekwon and Joell Ortiz-Tick Tock

Taken from RZA’s upcoming The Man With The Iron Fists film, the release of the soundtrack’s tracklist was met with much excitement and praise. This was unquestionably one of the better-looking selections on paper, and it doesn’t disappoint.

The production is moody and with a creeping sense of suspense, and given that it’s all work inspired by/to be used in the film, it’s the type of beat that you can envision being set to, and improving, a dark nighttime scene. Pusha opens the raps with a steady pace, packing his relatively aggressive raps into a quiet intensity that makes for a nice change of style, before Raekwon’s gristly tones jump in for a set of drug raps that feel perfectly suited to this Wu-style beat. Joell’s on closing duty and alters his approach in a similar manner to Pusha, swapping his usual high-octane style for a more menacing, reserved delivery that doesn’t sacrifice any of his lyrical ability. Worth a listen for sure, and be sure to keep an eye out for the full OST on 23rd October.

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RZA's The Man With The Iron Fists Soundtrack Tracklist

Quentin Tarantino presents The Man With The Iron Fists, an action-adventure inspired by kung-fu classics as interpreted by his longtime collaborators RZA and Eli Roth. Making his debut as a big-screen director, co-writer and leading man, RZA—alongside an exciting international cast led by Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu—tells the epic story of warriors, assassins and a lone outsider hero who all descend on one fabled village in China for a winner-takes-all battle for a fortune in gold. The film arrives on November 2, 2012.

I saw the trailer for this a little while back and frankly, it looks epic. Normally projects like this can be pretty shoddy, but RZA’s clearly surrounded himself with the right people and properly committed to this, and the sheer scale of the names involved in both the film and the soundtrack suggests he’ll pull this off with considerable success. The tracklist features a fantastic roster, including Kanye West, Pusha T and of course the Wu-Tang Clan; click below for the full list, where you can also grab a free download from the OST.
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Raekwon-Keep It Politics

“Keep It Politics” is the new single and documentary from Closed Sessions Vol. 2 released by Chicago indie label Closed Sessions. The album and documentary series is presented by rubyhornet.com, MTV2 Sucker Free, and SoundScape Studios.

Rae hooks up with DJ Babu for a decent hip-hop jam here, dropping off his first bit of solo material in a while. Babu throws in heavy bass with a playful, nursery rhyme-esque melody to tread that line between intensity and lightness, though it does feel like its missing one more element, something a less blunted percussion may have fixed. Rae’s raps are as listenable as ever, blending aggressive and arrogant raps into a relaxed flow that works the production style well. Solid if unspectacular track all-round.

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Wu Legends - Live in London

The Wu Legends tour rolls into London this Friday (13th July), with four of the most gifted members of Wu Tang performing live at the HMV Forum, Kentish Town.

Featuring Method Man, Ghostface, Raekwon, and GZA, we’ve been promised a performance spanning ‘Liquid Swords’, ‘Only Built 4 Cuban Lynx’, ‘Supreme Clientele’, and ‘Black Out’ so this is one not to be missed by ‘heads. If that wasn’t enough, OTU will be in attendence…

Support from Riz MC.

Tickets available at Ticketmaster and HMV tickets.

Wu Legends and Riz MC will also play dates at

-14th July Manchester HMV Ritz
-15th July Birmingham HMV Institute

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R&B Fridays: Episode 137

A few more tracks than usual this week, and from an enjoyably-eclectic range of acts, including Raheem DeVaughn, Lloyd, and many more.

Just the two noteworthy posts to recap on, with a free 4-track EP from The Internet, who solidified their place as one of my current favourites in the wider R&B scene (given that R&B doesn’t categorise their music with any great accuracy), and of course the second instalment of our popular 5-track Winter EP.

Click below for another 5 tracks to add to this week’s plentiful bounty.
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R&B Fridays: Episode 135

I wanted to open this week’s episode with a breakdown of why the number 135 was special. Turns out, nothing of any significance is tied to the number, so that’s that.

A few decent posts to recap on from the week gone by, with Ed Sheeran and Yelawolf teaming up for the first track from their upcoming EP, John Legend hooking up with Ludacris for a solid R&B jam, the excellent Elle Varner dropping off a brand new mixtape for her fans to enjoy, and finally a fantastic chillout instrumental from MeLo-X.

All caught up? Good. Feel free to resume your browsing by clicking below for this week’s instalment. There’s also a surprise new feature included in this episode that we’ve been requested to add for some time. Mysterious.
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Raekwon-Unexpected Victory Mixtape

Despite being the project I was looking forward to the most, it seems to have been mistakenly left out when posting the glut of material from the weekend, which I’ll blame on my excitement for the tape’s release.

Hopefully, this is more of that characteristically gritty, gutter material from The Chef, and the lineup of producers promises much with 9th Wonder, Statik Selektah and many more making appearances. The guest spots on the album are certainly noteworthy, with Mobb Deep, Busta Rhymes, Rae’s own artist JD Era and plenty of others coming along to assist Raekwon here. Unexpected Victory? With the artist, producers and features, it’s shaped up to be a pretty expected all-round win. Free grab below.

Raekwon-Unexpected Victory

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Peter Rosenberg & Popchips Present : What's Poppin Vol. 1

Normally, I don’t go for these ‘personality hosted’ mixtapes as they just tend to be a mish-mash of readily-available tracks. However, the ever-entertaining Peter Rosenberg (one of the few prominent lovers of both hip-hop and wrestling!) has really pulled off something special here, with a 23-track project full of original material from the likes of Raekwon, Odd Future, Kendrick Lamar, Asher Roth, Childish Gambino and many more. There’s even a Macho Man Randy Savage interlude!

Needless to say, this looks like a must-have for all hip-hop fans, and alongside the glut of rap gargantuans, there are a couple of ‘middle-ground’ names on here I’ve been looking to get into, whilst I’m sure we’ll also be introduced to a few new and upcoming stars. To quote Peter, ‘With so much BS out there — sometimes it’s hard to find what’s really poppin. Well I did the work for you. Enjoy.’

Peter Rosenberg & Popchips Present : What’s Poppin Vol. 1

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The LOX, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon-Wu Block (Prod. RZA)

Hip-hop. That’s what (I hope) we’re all here for right? Well it don’t get no better than this. Wu and The LOX come through with their first offering from their upcoming collaborative album Wu-Block. RZA crafts driving horns yet thankfully mixes things up sporadically throughout tailoring things perfectly for each emcees to drop those characteristically heavy bars. Now this is some Supreme Clientele Ghostface. Top stuff.

The LOX, Ghostface Killah & Raekwon-Wu Block (Prod. RZA) 

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Raekwon ft. Nas-Rich and Black [Video]

Good to see these kind of tracks getting visuals although scanning YouTube reminds me that Rae isn’t scared of dropping videos for the more ‘street’ tracks too.

We know the drill with the audio thanks to Indi back in March and the visuals, which clearly didn’t break the bank, do enough to demonstrate the lyrics on hand here. Nas and Rae drop their respective verses amidst a sea of homies, chains and bitches.

This sets things up nicely for a Rae feature on Nas’ upcoming LP, although with Nas the logical never quite seems to register.

Raekwon’s Shaolin Vs Wu-Tang can be purchased in a variety of places of your choice but I’m going with this one for ease/routine/laziness.

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Raekwon-Snake Pond [Video]

So Rae’s still carrying the torch for old school hip-hop?

Visuals here from Rae’s very good Shaolin Vs Wu-Tang. Quite a short track/video combination here but the visuals do enough to emphasize that gritty subject matter without being overly monotonous.

Reminds me a lot of The Wire which I’ve been getting into recently. I know, absolute #latepass on that one.

Buy Raekwon’s Shaolin Vs Wu-Tang here.

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Raekwon-Butter Knives [Video]

New visuals from The Chef’s latest project Shaolin Vs Wu-Tang.

I haven’t watched this yet as I’m in a bit of a hurry and my Internet could die any second but expect some vintage gritty visuals from Rae to compliment that gutter wordplay and instrumental. One of my favourites from the LP and one which can be acquired from here.

Support Rae and buy Shaolin Vs Wu-Tang here.

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Two Raekwon Bonus Cuts

With all the excellent album releases already this month (R.E.K.S., Avenger’s Airwaves, :03 From Gold, Lasers) it’s been easy for me to sleep on certain projects. One project which keeps rising to the top though is Rae’s most recent effort, the accomplished Shaolin vs Wu-Tang which continues Rae’s inroads into bringing those 90′s soundscapes back.

Here are two tracks which were left on Rae’s cutting room floor. Wu-Crime has that signature Wu sound and welcomes vocals from GZA and Priest. The second, Your World & My World with Mobb Deep’s Havoc, is somewhat more darker but neither would have sounded out of place on the LP.

Wu-Crime ft. GZA & Killah Priest

Your World & My World ft. Havoc

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Raekwon Album Launch Party (Live Stream)

To celebrate the release of Rae’s Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang album, popular NY radio station Hot 87 are hosting the official album release/launch party, and are kindly streaming it worldwide for free.

I’ve heard pretty good things about the album from various folk, so this should certainly be a very celebratory event which will undoubtedly showcase some great music. I’m told to expect a glut of special guests at the event and with both Hot 97 and Rae’s reputations, I don’t doubt we’ll see some pretty good people turning up.

Show starts at around 2am UK time (9pm EST for you American folk), and will be available in this embedded player. Free concert/star-studded bash in your own living room, for free? Why not eh!

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Raekwon-Rich And Black ft. Nas

The one track I was most looking forward to from Raekwon’s new album, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang (which is out next week!) has been liberated.

That’s right, Nasty Nas and Raekwon collaborate once more to great effect. Whilst the Damian Marley collaboration project that Nas involved himself with last year was excellent, I’ve certainly missed his old gritty sound. This is a track that’s a return to that particular sound, one that Raekwon is most definitely familiar with.

One for the hip hop heads, audio is available for your ears by clicking right here.

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Fat Joe-Pushing Keys ft. Raekwon

Fat Joe takes things back to the streets with Respect Mine/Firewater collaborator Raekwon. This beat is on some East Coast epicness and Joey Crack spits that old school, Fat Jiddo steelo which makes up for the fact Rae just does that annoying 50 Cent trait of talking out the remaining bars. No idea what this is from, just find it as a welcome addition to my iTunes.

Fat Joe’s 90′s shit > everything you’re listening to now

Fat Joe-Pushing Keys ft. Raekwon

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R&B Fridays: Episode 88

A few interesting remixes this week, with over a third of this week’s tracks being of the remix variety. Other great tracks in there too, making this an R&B Friday that you’ll forgive for being a little late to the party.

Unlike recent weeks, there’s a pretty big recap on this week’s notable R&B/pop events: Yasmin previewed her new single, Tank came through with a new video, Timbaland’s #TimboThursdays rolled on, Trey Songz released the Love Faces video,  Miguel and Gilbere Forte combined for a fantastic effort, Diddy’s Dirty Money trio released an official mixtape, last week’s notable Grammy performances, Bruno Mars’ Grenade getting the Lil’ Wayne remix, and finally Erin Christine’s fantastic performance of Naked. All worth checking out, and more worth your time after the click below.

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DJ Kay Slay & Streetsweepers-The Soul Controller [Mixtape]

New mixtape from DJ Kay Slay which features a whole host of familiar names. From the likes of Raekwon, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Styles P, Papoose, Vado, Maino and Ghostface Killah, we can see a huge New York influence on this mixtape (wouldn’t expect any less from Kay Slay!).

Click this bit of red text to grab hold of this tape and click the red text below to check out the tracklist!

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