My internet has been out for days, so I apologise for the delay. That being said, hip-hop’s current malaise means even obvious releases like this are completely slipping under my radar. I generally enjoy Game’s material, but even he hasn’t escaped the effects of my boredom with rap as of late.
Nonetheless, it’ll be a project I’m certainly going to give a go, if only for the inevitable handful of car-ready highlights that will emerge. Game’s usual running buddies turn up, alongside some of the newer breed, with features from Chris Brown, Lil’ Wayne, Nipsey Hu$$le, ScHoolboy Q, Diddy, Elijah Blake and K. Roosevelt amongst many more, whilst the production lineup boasts appearances from Cool & Dre, DJ Mustard and League of Starz. It’s pretty much everything a mainstream hip-hop head needs, and is available to stream and download below.
Over the last 18 months, Stalley’s worked his way into a position as one of the leading rappers in my iTunes: his lyrical approach is versatile enough for almost any type of track, whilst his flows are equally capable and diverse, and when added to his generally solid beat selections, it’s difficult to figure out why he’s not held in higher regard.
Nonetheless, it’s his first full release of the year, and another 10 new tracks to add to an impressive back catalogue. Features are minimal, though appearances from Scarface and ScHoolboy Q certainly suggests quality over quantity, whilst production credits that feature the likes of DJ Quik, Cardo, Terrace Martin, and frequent Stalley collaborators Block Beataz. The latter for me is most exciting, given their stellar track record together, and I’ve got no doubt that they’ll deliver once more with their offerings here. Stream and grab the whole damn show below.
The dust has most certainly settled, and several folk I’ve spoken to would agree; Mac delivered the best album of the three big releases on 16th June. It’s not full of leftfield beats like Kanye’s, or packed with laidback jams and throwback sampling like Cole’s, but it’s got some solid productions and strong features that carrys several tracks into much longer-term listening territory.
This was one of my favourite tracks from Mac’s Watching Movies With The Sound Off, and not for any smart or clever reason. Quite the opposite-it’s fun, lighthearted hip-hop with a bouncy production, with catchy and infectious qualities to boot. A lot of the lyricism is silly stuff too, but clearly it’s a track that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and hence is a pretty easy listen throughout, especially when compared to the discordant sounds of Yeezus, and the occassional blandness of Born Sinner.
The video follows the audio’s lead, with Mac hanging around not achieving a great deal, and instead pretty much being high around his neighbourhood. Q’s smooth verse is lively and colourful, featuring him eating and hanging around in a red light room. Simple. There’s no pretension or unnecessary layering here-it’s fun hip-hop that has a good knock to it. Get it on the album.
The newest release from ScHoolboy’s Oxymoron album, and one that I’m sure will find a grateful home in many iTunes libraries given the relative lack of information and music relating to this album thus far.
The production is one that might take time to grow on listeners. Whilst his traditionally dark, moody vibe is present with dominating bass hits and sporadic dashes of atmospheric synths and melodies, the pace of the beat pulls those elements together into a more energetic, head-nodding direction that compromises the sombre vibe somewhat. It’s initially a little disorienting, but repeat listens gradually soften the contrast and alternately move the beat between being upbeat and atmospheric, creating a rather dynamic listening experience. Q and Kendrick’s performances are differentiated well, with Q’s generally laidback style crisply running along the bouncy bass, whilst his occasional bursts of aggressiveness and intensity add good variety. Kendrick initially offers an altered cadence (though longtime listeners will have heard it before), with a higher-pitched delivery working with the spaced-out production elements to create a rather trippy vibe, before switching to a few ‘regular’ styles to close. One you’ll need to give several plays to fully enjoy.
I didn’t like this song when the original dropped, and the remix doesn’t help; it still sounds like a throwaway Soulja Boy track from 2007, and it baffles me that the guys on the actual song aren’t aware of that, nor seemingly are a fair chunk of the hip-hop crowd.
Normally, an all-star remix can help hide the obvious gaps in a distinctly average production such as this, but unfortunately the acts here don’t seem to be feeling particularly creative. They all adopt a near-identical flow for their verses, and on a track where lyricism is hardly going to triumph, you’d think one or two of them would have the self-assurance to cut away from the expected delivery. The only one who comes close to being listenable is ScHoolboy Q, who adapts the latter part of his verse to move out of the stop-start rap style the rest use, whilst credit also goes to Trindad James for bringing some intensity and passion to proceedings, regardless of his lyrical and structural output. It’ll be a favourite with the type of people your parents told you not to hang around with, and whilst I like Ferg and some of his other material is way better, this is ignorable for the rest of us.
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.
Q’s gearing up for that Oxymoron release this year and it looks like the promotional run is about to begin, with this first release from the TDE representative’s debut LP.
Generally, Q has two styles: contemplative or speaker-rattling. This falls firmly in the latter, and if you’re desperate for a point of reference, let’s just say it’s more There He Go than Blessed. The slow-moving percussion winds through the track well, anchoring the track in an easygoing tempo with a thumping bass to boot, whilst the faint melodies layered on top add a light, almost-summery vibe to the track, with the exception of a moody synth that fires through on the hook. Generally speaking, it’s a relatively dark, bass-heavy beat that’ll knock nicely in your car, and hence it’s the type that suits Q’s street raps, with his delivery on a more rough, grittier style than he usually opts for. It’s all packed into a deliberate pace that allows him to really emphasise his every sentence, an effect that works in tandem with the production to add intensity throughout the entire piece. A good opener for Q, and whilst it won’t be to everyone’s taste, it’s definitely one his longtime fans will appreciate.
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.
The fearsome foursome come together once again for another Target bonus cut from Kendrick’s LP, this time grabbing the album’s first single and taking it for a ride.
Kendrick’s work on here is unchanged, but the rest of the TDE crew drops off enjoyable work that spices up the original, which I’m sure has finally dropped out of many’s playlists. A much different vibe to the grim Swimming Pools Remix, each of the feature verses are much lighter and laced with a touch more arrogance, with Jay Rock probably just edging it: he tones down his aggression, which leaves his delivery as gritty yet laidback, a great complement to this relaxing production. Another likeable remix.
With any good album release comes a slew of bonus tracks from various retailers, and as ever most of them are only available to consumers shopping at certain outlets. Essentially, most fans won’t get to legally own some of this material unless they buy the album several times. Way to combat piracy. Not.
This one (and another coming shortly) were found on the Target edition of the album, and it’s a damn shame they’re not more widely available. The original Swimming Pools still gets heavy play, and throwing the TDE crew into the mix provides a great upgrade on that, with the moody tones of each rapper suiting this dark production. The highlight verse of the new additions has to be Q’s, utilising a similar flow to Kendrick’s opening verse on the original, but lacing it with a unique touch that seperates it from its reference point. Kendrick himself appends a new verse over a retooled production to the end, with the beat being much less atmospheric and more on a thudding, underground hip-hop style. Top remix, and let’s hope it becomes more readily available soon.
As per every year, the only thing we check the BET Awards for is these excellent ciphers, and this year is no different.
The 2012 edition brings you some utterly superb lineups, with the clip up here being a personal highlight as it features several of my favourite upcomers-A$AP Rocky, Joey Bada$$, Childish Gambino and Angel Haze, alongside newcomer Driicky Graham. The rest of the ciphers feature the likes of T.I., B.o.B., Talib Kweli, Jean Grae, DMX, Eve, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Kurupt, DJ Quik, Xzibit, Mac Miller, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, Hopsin and more.
Plenty of promise, click on below to check out all of the ciphers. Who do you reckon had the standout performance? Big fan of Joey Bada$$ with the cipher up here, and my winners for the rest are below.
This guy’s flung into hip-hop consciousness seemingly out of nowhere, inking a deal recently with Rostrum Records (Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller etc.), and now drops off this mixtape packed with some excellent features.
I’ve not even heard any of his material yet, though I’ve got confidence in his abilities based on the acts he’s surrounded himself with on this tape. Contributing producers include Statik Selektah, !llmind and Beatnick & K-Salaam, whilst guest rappers include GLC, ScHoolboy Q, Freeway, labelmates Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller and Chevy Woods and more. Find out if this newcomer can cement himself a place in the game with the free grab below.
The Q feature is what got your attention, but this is a very good collaboration all-round from the two upcomers here, thanks to a strong production and excellently-matched verses.
The beat moves at a slow, deliberate pace that utilises heavy percussion for a thudding intensity, whilst the sharp synth work adds a little liveliness and positivity to proceedings. There’s plenty more going on too, including what sounds like a Biggie voice sample on the hook, and it’s a detailed bit of work from AAMG Productions that deserves credit. The verses are very well delivered, both bringing their own slowed-down flows to sync up to the production well and create an overall synergy that makes this an enjoyable track from start to finish.
Known to me primarily for his feature on Problem’s impossibly-catchy T.O., Skeme branches out with a brand new single, grabbing TDE’s ScHoolboy Q for a fairly aggressive hip-hop effort.
Skeme’s verses are relatively solid throughout, though not quite as conscientious as the title may have suggested, which is instead a little more self-referring. Nonetheless, it’s familiar stuff that will make for a good introduction to the hip-hop masses. ScHoolboy’s definitely in the mood for this one, bringing a strong, intense delivery that really ramps up the energy of the track and is unquestionably its highlight section. The production is a little hit and miss, with a nice powerful bass working well enough, but the minimal melodies on top are sharp without ever being dominating, and instead end up just floating around annoyingly. Worth checking for the ScHoolboy verse, though I’m sure many will enjoy the whole thing.
TDE appreciation week rolls on with even more brand new material, and this time it’s Q stepping up to drop off his first slice of solo material in quite some time.
As the title may suggest, this is considerably more upbeat and party-oriented than the more sombre material found on the excellent Habits and Contradictions album, and its good to see this side of Q’s persona finally reflected on a track. The production has an electro-inspired synth driving throughout, giving it an urgency that ties to the sharp percussion for an easy-to-digest and familiar-sounding beat, whilst the raps are packed into a stop-start flow that has a couple of good bursts. The hook crowns this one off, being pretty simple with a clear catchy centre point, making this one fairly accessible to a wider audience than Q’s usual fanbase. Worth sticking on your hip-hop party playlists for sure. Can it be TDE week every week?
This series is set to follow Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q on their joint (no pun intended) Under the Influence tour with Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa across North America, and if you thought the recent Slaughterhouse video was insightful and/or hilarious, this is ridiculous.
ScHoolboy Q gets refused entry to Canada, weed is rolled on camera, and there’s lots of money being thrown around. However, the highlight (and at least 50% of the video) is Kendrick and Q essentially going crazy to Rick Ross’ Hold Me Back. It starts off with silly little things such as Q basically just chilling in his boxers and counting money to Kendrick miscellaneously stacking bags in front of himself, before descending into absolute anarchy include a Kendrick floor ‘seizure’.
This looks like it’ll be a series worth keeping up with.
The huge posse cut from Ab-Soul’s recent (and very enjoyable) Control System album, with his TDE labelmates all coming through to help Ab-Soul out.
The sombre and relatively stripped back production on this creates a great environment for the TDE crew to flex their rapping muscles. Kendrick opens up with a brash and cocky verse, Soulo follows up with a decent verse and anthemic bridge/hook, before ScHoolboy comes through with the highlight verse, adding tons of emphasis to his raps by switching up and dialing back the aggressiveness alternately. Ab comes back in for another verse to stay front-of-mind, before Jay closes things off in the gruff tones and intense manner that he knows best. It’s a good collection of verses that displays the superb depth of talent in the TDE crew.
The video follows suit with the audio, being mostly minimal and focused around the rappers more than anything else. The dark scenescape undoubtedly adds to the power and grittiness of the track, whilst the siren lights create a little danger and urgency. It’s enough to complement a good hip-hop track, and one of the better posse cuts in recent months. Grab the Control System album now.
The friendship between the two upcoming rappers has been well-documented over the last few months or so, and Noisey get the two together for their Back and Forth series. Initially, I think this series was meant to be about one artist interviewing another, but the nature of Q and Rocky leads, of course, to this breaking down into some pretty funny stuff.
The banter between the two is clear from the off, with conversations about thumbs going into foreign places, Rocky sitting around smoking some kind of bong, and it pretty much spirals from there. It’s great to see two hip-hop artists from such different places coming together like this, and that upcoming tour with the two of them and Danny Brown sounds like it could be pretty superb. Let’s hope they bring it out here.
Two of hip-hop’s fastest rising stars, and the duo come through with their first collaborative video, taken from Rocky’s LiveLoveA$AP mixtape.
Most fans of the tape may have overlooked this grower of a track, no crime given that the tape had many more immediately-likeable songs, and hence this visual will help bring it back for a few more listens. Q was recently quoted by MTV saying “We kind of live the same lifestyle. I’m a little more gangsta than him. He’s a little more swagger than me. We’re kind of the same, but from different places.” This track is perfect evidence of that, with Rocky’s cool, confident verse opening things before Q runs through with aggression and tenacity, and they come together for a closer that has them coming closer stylistically, with Rocky getting a touch more intense and Q going for a little more style.
The video fits well with the audio, building on the slow, winding production with a dark palette and plenty of nighttime scenery. It’s a simple and effective hip-hop clip that doesn’t pack in any pretence, and instead focuses on the performance of the raps, bringing the charisma of both acts to the fore. Grab the full mixtape over here.
I know this collaboration will excite a lot of OTU fans, and rightfully so. Two upcoming rappers who’ve risen at different ends of the spectrum, and this is about as good a co-sign as Gambino’s managed to grab to date in his quest to be taken much more seriously as a rapper.
Assumedly from his upcoming mixtape, and having given Funk Flex the honour of premiering this a couple of nights back, he’s certainly upped the hype for that project. There’s a clear maturity taking place with Gambino’s raps, leaving behind his lighter style for something a little darker and more aggressive in a recent video, and that’s a trait carried over here. A slow, ominous production holds things together whilst both rappers grab the beat in very different ways, and whilst Q edges it with his razor-sharp flow, Gambino’s performance is enjoyable with some nice lyrical high points. Radio rip for now, and I’m looking forward to a better version.
ScHoolboy Q has been attracting many new fans recently, as the critics lap up his new album, Habits & Contradictions. Having heard it, it’s not hard to realise why; the production is top-notch and he offers a rather sombre yet gritty style to his peers, like Kendrick Lamar.
NigHtmare On Figg St. is a wonderful reworking of Jay-Z and Kanye’s flamboyant Ni**as in Paris, the production is great and the video rather haunting.
I’m increasingly becoming a fan of Q’s material, and this effort only furthers that fandom, as he hooks up with fellow TDE labelmate Kendrick Lamar for a laidback, head-nodding slice of hip-hop.
The sample used is drifty and atmospheric, adding a real sense of depth and mystery to the track (I’m also quite sure a speedier version of it was used by The Illz on Let It Fall), whilst the intermittent, offbeat percussion gives the production a very unique feel. It also makes the production tricky to find a ‘common’ rap delivery for, which brings two different and equally enjoyable flows from Q and Kendrick, both of which are packed with some solid, often introspective lyricism that adds to the atmosphere of the track. Very good track, and hopefully that Habits and Contradictions project is coming soon.
Not familiar with the works of Schoolboy Q, but I’ll be getting more familiar after catching this very good track. Grabbing the edgy yet sultry vocals of Jhene Aiko for the hook, she certainly impresses with an atmospheric quality that anchors this song nicely.
Schoolboy comes through with a laidback, confident style on his verses that evokes a real late 90′s sort of feel, with his smooth lyricism and lazy flows being a great match with Jhene’s own relaxed vocals. Each of his verses acts as a great introduction to the talent he possesses, and he’s definitely one too look out for.
The video fits the song perfectly, going with a minimalist approach that bth compliments and emphasises the laidback nature and subject matter of the track. Audio can be grabbed here, and the entire album Setbacks is on iTunes now.