SciFiMusik is a Chicago based Hip Hop artist who released his debut album on 23 April of this year. This is a ten track project with a single feature from $uade. The album is titled “Time Alone” and the artwork does a good job of setting the scene for the album; A skyline shot of the Windy City as the backdrop for SciFi’s mug shot. I’m always going to commend the details and this is a nicely executed detail. Let’s get into this.
“Journal Entry” is the third track on the album and features some of my favourite production on this project. Heavy kicks, clean use of vocal samples and strong keys laced with delicate melodies make for a beat that slaps. SciFi uses complex rhyme schemes clothed in raw and honest story telling lyricism to put on what is really a solid performance. Bars from start to finish, we love to hear this.
“Could’ve been better” is the eighth song on “Time Alone”. The production on this song was composed to perfection. Sticking to the keys theme of the project and complimented by the rest of the soundscape which makes for a nice balance on this album. SciFi is supported by a great hook and delivers a more conversational rap style, showing some versatility in his pen game.
“Damaged” is the final track on the album. Once again, production choice is on point and brings the whole project together nicely. SciFi delivers some hard hitting, relatable and carefully crafted bars. $uade is a nice touch to the track and to the album as a whole. He delivers some slick flow switches and some honest bars.
In closing, this is a good debut album. SciFiMusik was able to deliver an impressive display of consistency from start to finish. The beat selection created a nicely defined sound which allowed SciFi to dance on the beats a little and seamlessly switch flows. Honourable mentions go to “Tales From the Hood” and “Sticking to the. Script”, great performances. Go follow him on Instagram: @sci1990
Dissown is a rising underground rapper from Raleigh, NC and I recently got the chance to listen to his latest album, “Going the Diztence”. This latest instalment to his discography is 14 tracks long and features VR$E and RDP. Let’s talk about this body of work.
“Further Than Before” is a vibe, featuring a dope verse from VR$E. The production on this is super clean with the sliding bass and slick guitar licks. Both rappers show off their wordsmith abilities as they deliver uplifting verses about pushing to go further and be better. Good job boys.
“Nothing” is a stand out. Technical rhyme schemes and fresh flows from start to finish. Admittedly, he occasionally and very slightly sounds like he might fall off beat. But he catches himself every time which becomes a kind of stylistic delivery technique for him. The production on this also deserves a mention, menacing and heavy!
“All in My Head” is a track with a nicely composed soundscape. The vocal runs, the constant melodic keys, the bass and the live drums. *insert fire emoji*! Dissown puts on a decent performance, riding the beat with a quick flow as he plays with different rhyme schemes about overcoming doubts in your head before the hook comes in and brings everything together in a great way.
This is a cool album overall. Before I conclude, I do have to give an honorary mention to “Seconds of Inspiration”. This was a dope track! Dissown gives me Mike Shinoda vibes mixed with a small dose of a young Eminem. The album was a tad long for me, but still a well put together body of work. Definitely worth a listen. Go follow him on Instagram: @tharealdissown
Dany Omen X is an New Orleans trucker turned rapper. ‘Citizen Band Radio’ is his latest EP. This project can be described as a “driving while black” themed EP Centring on the perspective of a black trucker in the American countryside. The EP is five tracks long and features production from multi platinum producer, DJ Precise.
“Trucker Bounce” is the first track on the project and, in my opinion, the best song on the EP. DJ Precise did a good job on the production, using heavy base and melodic keys to hold everything together. Dangy’s performance features some clever rhymes and a catchy hook. He has fun on this.
“Dammit Boy” is a stand out track. I love when artists hit you with their best first. The jazzy production is so clean and allows Dangy to ride the beat with his improvisational, spoken word style. He even fits in a bar alluding to his upcoming rebrand, “Xcalibre…” The hook could have been a bit more interesting, but the song still holds its own.
“Pride” is another stand out.Once again, a great beat choice to compliment his style. Dangy’s flow is unorthodox, but it works! The same could be said about the hook but it all works together well with those super clean 808’s. I would have liked to hear a second verse, maybe with a feature. Regardless, it was a cool way to end the project.
All in all, this is a decent short body of work. I personally would have liked to hear a little more lyrical substance, although I admit that some of the trucker references may have just gone over my head. Have a listen for yourself and follow Dangy Omen X on Instagram: @xcaliberdaomen
Up coming South Florida artist, R.Eddie, recently released his second full length album titled “The Dungeon”. Having been working on his craft for about a decade now, can his latest body of work make a splash?
“Building Blocks” is a definite favourite! Eddie has very clearly spent countless hours working on his flow and word play ability. It shows. This song has heavy Kendrick Lamar vibes with R. Eddie’s own twist. Also, the production is large and clean!
Another standout track is “Look at My”. This production is nice! This is the kind of beat that allows a rapper to really spit. Clean drums with nice fills and subtle changes. R. Eddie delivers as he rides the beat like a seasoned pro. Lyrically, the song is a very cool depiction of his journey to date. Some very clever rhyme schemes, flawless flow and a catchy hook make for a world class performance.
“Begging” is a very cool ending to this project. This is definitely my favourite performance from Eddie through out the entire body of work. Literally “chopping english up like salad” this song is for his fans, his new fans and fans of rap in general! This song kind of closes the project perfectly, dope beat selection and bars.
This album sounds like something TDE would put out! Coming in at 13 tracks and 45 mins, this album is definitely worth a listen,save, like and earns a follow! Go check out his Instagram: @reddiemusic
Shaw Calhoune is a rapper from Maryland who has recently blessed us with his new 9 track album, “The Rudy Tape”. The rapper, known for his heavy hitting bars and boom bap production, enlists the help of some very cool samples from the late, great Rudy Ray Moore, himself. From start to finish, this tape is sprinkled with sound bites of the Godfather of Rap.
“Rudy Moore” is the second track on the project and Shaw delivers a special performance. Several different flows and multi syllable rhyme schemes over production that has you feeling like going for a cruise in a Coupe Deville. This beat is menacing, gritty and gangster. The perfect way to start this project.
“Henny Bottles” is a future classic. Minimal percussion, but a super lush bass laced with a string section and some keys. This is whiskey and cigar music. Shaw’s flow is consistent on this song, reminiscent of a Rick Ross vibe as he uses his lyricism to embody the character of the 70’s pimp, Dolemite. Yes, as far as concept albums go, this is truly impressive.
“Changing of The Guard” is another stand out. That sax was among my favourite moments in this entire project. Again, this one isn’t heavy on the percussion. But it is big on the horns and the woodwind sections. This gives Shaw Calhoune the opportunity to smoothly ride over the beat, playing with different rhyme schemes and seamlessly switching flows. His gritty delivery gives this song a heavy presence without the need for a hard hitting kick.
If you love samples, boom bap, clever rhyme schemes, story telling lyricism and concept projects; then this is the album you have been waiting for! I am honestly pretty happy that this was the first album that I got to review for the year. Shaw Calhoune has set the bar nice and high. This project had a consistent cadence to it that I haven’t heard in a while. Calhoune used vocal samples from Rudy Moore to really bring everything together and the story telling was masterful. Follow him on Instagram: @shaw_thegreat
“Point God” is just a cool track. Clean sampling and drums, slick flows from Jered Sanders and TNV, alike. The hoop metaphor through out the track shows the creativity of the artists and by the hook, you’re left bopping your head. In the artistic process, many songs can get left behind and forgotten. I’m glad this wasn’t one of them.
“Made Different” is an easy stand out track on this project. TNV sports a super nice flow as he plays with technical rhyme schemes and makes it sound easy. Couple this with some honest and hard hitting bars, a dope sample and some clean drums; you got a hot track!
“Mistakes” has the kind of production that reminds me of Graduation Day Kanye. Both Kelo and TNV bring the bars as they discuss a fact of life, people make mistakes. They sprinkled this with a bit of the gospel message in there which was pretty refreshing, as if it wasn’t refreshing enough to just listen to a couple of rappers being humble in 2020. I think this is an enjoyable track regardless of your faith.
This was a cool album. It was current, classic and different all together. Each rapper managed to do something that is surprisingly quite hard to do; they rapped without cussing, and it was good! If you like clean sample based boom bap production, technical rhyme schemes, heavy bars and just plain positivity with your hip hop then this album is for you. Follow TNV on Instagram: @tnvthatnew
Arquiteko Verbal is a bilingual Los Angeles based hip hop artist who mixes complex rhyme schemes with refreshing production to take his listeners on a trip into his mind on every track. I recently got the chance to listen to his latest body of work, “The Feature Presentation”. This album sounds like it was made for vinyl! I’ll gladly say off the bat that this is filled with 11 super cool tracks, all produced by Orchestrated Sounds, and some very carefully curated features to make it all come together.
“Who got the power” was a clear stand out for me. Orchestrated Sounds did an amazing job on the production and Arquitekto brought the bars and the flows, in abundance. Lyrically this is a thought provoking track as Arquitekto takes us through his thoughts on the political state of the world in recent years. This is track is just one example of his versatility and what I really love is that he manages to do this without being boring or corny.
“Carpool” is a vibe. The production places you right in the middle of a sunny day in California. Each verse quite literally slides in, adding a new level of depth to the song as Cuartesmatic and ASP add their diverse styles to the mix. This is a very cool track and a really good example of Arquitekto’s natural gift of being able to carefully select artists who are not only talented, but will also add genuine value to the song that they appear on.
“Hamij” is a jam. Jazzy samples, boombap drums, slick flows, a catchy hook and a dope feature from Murderdatt. Lyrically the song pays homage to some of hip hop’s greats, no doubt the artists who inspired both of these songwriters. This song is clever and gets you instantly bopping your head.
In closing, I really enjoyed this project and if you are into authentic, honest and provocative west coast hip hop, then this is for you too. If you are bilingual and understand spanish, then I’ve also been told that this tape features some hard hitting spanish bars. Unfortunately my Spanish isn’t so good anymore, but regardless, this is a great project. Other noteable tracks were “Take Cover” featuring Choize Areef and M.I.E and “Love Hangover” featuring Francisco Baites. Go follow Arquitekto Verbal on Instagram: @arquitekto_verbal
Run The Jewels and Company Flow co-founder El-P is the latest guest on Talib Kweli’s The People’s Party Podcast, with co-host Jasmin Leigh. The two natives of Brooklyn, New York have plenty of history together, including Hip Hop For Respect. They were label-mates at Rawkus Records during an inflection point in both artist’s careers, making albums that galvanized an iconic underground Hip-Hop label that reached the mainstream. The two men relive some history from the mid-1990s when each hungry Hip-Hop artist found a home that was down to put out music by their respective groups. Ahead of the 30:00 mark, El-P remembers working at Lower Manhattan’s Tower Records with Co Flow band-mate Bigg Jus. Notably, some years later, Kweli recalls a job selling incense and oils outside that same Lafayette Street music store. El recalls Company Flow using Tower’s postage to ship demo materials to record labels. “We’d take our money that we earned there, and we’d go record at night,” he remembers of early songs like “8 Steps To Perfection” and others. The trio (also including New Jersey producer/DJ Mr. Len) had room on the 12″ recording. That birthed the eight songs on 1996 Official Records’ Funcrusher. “That was literally as simple as it was,” El says. “Why are we just putting a song and an instrumental on this piece of plastic? It’s gonna cost the same amount of money to put eight of these songs on here.” Talib Kweli Says The New Black Star Album With Madlib Is Done Talib brings up the years that followed. “[You and I] were signed to Rawkus at the same time. Black Star was more jazzy, melodic. We were in the same circles, in terms of crews, but sonically, not so [much]. Did you ever feel like there was a competition between Company Flow and Black Star? Because we were operating in the same spaces and sort of vying for the same fan-base, just different sides of people’s brain.” El responds with what appears to be a joke, “Nah. The only time I ever thought there was a competition was when you got to the B.D.P beat before me. I was like, ‘F*ck those dudes.’ I was mad about that one.” He is referring to DJ Hi-Tek’s “Definition” track for Black Star, which samples Boogie Down Productions’ “The P Is Free (Remix).” El continues, “I think my influences were really rooted in sh*t like B.D.P, and [Public Enemy], and Run-D.M.C., and old Schoolly D, and Fat Boys, sh*t like that, and Slick Rick—big, big Hip-Hop records with stabs. To this day, that’s kinda my thing.” Kweli then reflects, “Like, we weren’t as lo-fi as a Madlib, but it was definitely a warm, fuzzier thing that we were doing.” “For sure,” El agrees. “And that’s why it worked. That’s why we coexisted. Because, to be fair, it never felt like a competition. You were always doing your thing. The thing about that period of time, and that era, which was so special, is that there were so many people doing different sh*t. The ones that really stood one—the ones that ended up being some of the groups that we’d call defining of that era, I think Company Flow is included, and I knowBlack Star is, and I know there’s a couple others—everybody had their slot that they filled that created this picture. There’s a lot going on in this movement. There was. You remember the open mics and sh*t; everybody would get up and have a style, and everyone was into that different style.” Evil Dee Details What Led To The Demise Of Rawkus Records Talib continues, “For me, when I got to Rawkus, what was exciting about [the label] to me was [Missin’ Linx member] Black Attack was there, and Shabaam [Sahdeeq] was there, and Sir Menelik was there; I wasn’t familiar with Menelik, but I was familiar with Kool Keith, and Company Flow was there. Y’all established it before we got there.” “I feel like Rawkus co-opted this whole ‘independent as f*ck’ thing.” El responds, “I think that Rawkus certainly recognized it, and I think they had the ability to do something about it.” El says that Company Flow came up with the mantra while hand-designing artwork at a kitchen table using glue-sticks. It would eventually become a moniker in the late 1990s and early 2000s Rap underground. Kweli recalls being introduced to Rawkus co-founder Jarret Myer, who produces The People’s Party through then-Fugees affiliate John Forté. “I remember Jarret and Brian [Brater], these two white guys from Brown University, they came to the hood—they came to Crown Heights, and John Forté was there. Everybody was rhyming their ass off; everybody had a blunt and a 40 [ounce beer]. Everybody was trying to get a record deal, rhyming their ass off. At this point, I don’t even think that they had y’all yet. I remember John Forté being like, ‘Why ain’t you rappin’?’ I’m like, ‘This indie label sh*t? I’m trying to get to a major.'” The Reflection Eternal and Black Star co-founder continues, “A short two years later, now my girl is pregnant, now I lost my job. Mos Def [aka] Yasiin Bey comes to me, he’s like, ‘Yo, I think I’ma do a single with these Rawkus dudes.’ I’m like, ‘Jarret and Brian?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah; they gave me some money.’ I’m like, ‘They gave you some money? [Laughs] How much money they give you?’ My whole thought pattern changed.” El-P, J-Live & Breeze Brewin Rap At Fat Beats’ Grand Opening (AFH TV Video) “Meeting those guys, it was very interesting, and I think Jarret can attest to this. Basically, we were having a moment in the underground, but we had very quickly—through people like Stretch & Bobbito—we had started to get a lot of attention, just from the little music that we had put out.” An assortment of major and independent labels took an interest in the New York-New Jersey trio. “Rawkus were the ones who said yes to what we thought it should look like. We were like, ‘We want to do this, and we want to own the masters. We want a 50/50 deal. And we don’t want to promise more than one album, ’cause we don’t know how it’s gonna work out. At the time, these were ludicrous thoughts. At the time, there was no [artist leverage]. We went into these guys’ offices and said the same thing that we’d said to other [labels, and they agreed]. I think that was a really genuine place for us to jump off with that sh*t. Because if they’re in that head-space where they respect that idea, and they’re willing, also, to give us money, then these guys are serious. So when you say the co-opting of the [‘independent as f*ck’ mantra], I think what they did was they [finalized] or expanded the thought. We had the thought of ‘independent as f*ck,’ the thing that became a rallying cry in our collective. We helped define that attitude.” El expands, “There was no independent record label system for dudes like us. Either you were on a major or you just were going around to different places freestyling—Washington Square Park or Nuyorican [Poets Café]. There was no middle-ground. Rawkus became the first step for a middle-ground. [They were] the first people to recognize and say—and they felt the same way that I did, politically—’this stuff actually has a monetary future. We can actually sell this, and not take this and try and change it.'” He expounds that the label offered a step apart from the politics and nepotism of the old-guard label system. El-P and Company Flow broke from Rawkus. El launched Definitive Jux Records, another heralded 2000s imprint. Juss created Subversive, and Len opened his Dummy Smacks company. Talib, who remained with Rawkus until the label was sold, has co-founded labels, including Blacksmith and Javotti Media. While both El and Talib criticized their former label on wax at times, they seemingly look back at the imprint’s positive qualities more than 20 years after signing. 10 Things You May Not Know About Rawkus Records (Audio) Elsewhere in the interview, El-P describes Zack De La Rocha living and recording with him in the days following the Rage Against The Machine breakup. He also remembers Def Jux, and confirms that Rick Rubin is not producing Run The Jewels’ fourth album. Last week, Talib Kweli confirmed that Black Star’s sophomore album, which is reportedly produced by Madlib, is completed. Talib Kweli Rocks A Rawkus Records In-Store At Fat Beats (AFH TV Video)Videos from Rawkus Records-era Talib Kweli and El-P are available at AFH TV. We are currently offering free 7-day trials.
Rising artist RIIV excites all of us with his new energetic single titled “Beautiful“, it details what it’s like when you realize you’re in love and how the person you’re falling for is the most beautiful soul in the world.