Underground hip hop polymath Aesop Rock has announced an official reissue of his highly sought after and long out-of-print 1999 EPAppleseed, available now on all digital platforms as well as on vinyl for the first time ever via Rhymesayers Entertainment. Appleseed was a staggering introduction to Aesop’s singular talent for dense and cerebral wordplay, rendering an indelible influence on the next wave of underground rap as word of its brilliance travelled quickly through that scene. As influential as the layered lyricism was the album’s melodic and melancholic production, with six out of the eight songs produced by Aesop himself, Omega One helming “Sick Friend,” and Blockhead showing up for “1000 Deaths,” which worked out to be just the first in a long line of fruitful collaborations between the two.
The story of Appleseed is also the story of a burgeoning independent hip hop scene that began to flourish in the wake of technological innovations of the era, including quality affordable home recording equipment and the rising availability of CD-R drives, which gave artists the freedom to write, record, and manufacture albums outside of the constraints of a label system. “The first Appleseed CD’s were CD-R’s I duped at home and sold from my backpack at an MF DOOM show at Brownies, which was right below my apartment at the time,” recalls Aesop. “I continued to sell hand-to-hand in NY, while Blockhead started fielding some mail orders from a young internet. People would send us cash or a check, and he’d cut the covers out and mail them off.“
The two of them were able to move a couple thousand CDs before turning their attention to newer projects. Appleseed went out of print for many years, with the exception of occasional CD represses surfacing as a merch item on tour. Rhymesayers are excited to introduce the album to a new generation of listeners, finally on streaming and vinyl for the first time ever. Pre-order vinyl and exclusive merch onAesopRock.com.
RastaBwoyKell is a 26 year old MC/producer from Chicago, Illinois notable for fusing together reggae & trap. He’s gone on to release 4 albums & an EP in the last 2 years but after taking a drum class, he’s setting out to change the frequency of music on his 5th full-length outing right here.
After the intro, the first song “Enoch” takes things into an atmospheric trap direction with Kell taking about moving silent before working into a flute & expressing his desire for success on “Prosperous”. We go into a more bassier sound for the braggadocious “Excuse Me” whereas on “Mau Mau”, it’s a lot more darker & violent.
Meanwhile on “Holy Ghost”, the instrumental has a more tribal vibe with the lyrics talking about how his words will live on forever leading into the pure evil that is “Knife n Gun”. Then there’s the Legacy Freedom-assisted “Rituals”, which is a meditative cut about being born again & born in sin.
The song “Jungle” with MasoTheRebel is a reggae/hip hop fusion about how they’re gon’ get it while the penultimate track “Circle of Life” is an empowering anthem about equal rights. For the closer “As Above So Below”, which works in some heavy snares & speaking on being down to earth.
If you ask me, Kell is one of the most unique MCs that I’ve heard in a while & 6/8 could very well be the best project he’s attached is name onto yet. His sound is completely unlike any other & the songwriting really hits listeners in the soul.
The HRSMN is a hip hop supergroup consisting of Canibus, Killah Priest, Kurupt & Ras Kass. These 4 have made a name for themselves as some of the most underrated lyricists the culture has ever seen & first formed a little over 20 years ago with a couple of collabs. A mixtape called The Horsemen Project even emerged in late 2003, which was followed up with the Historic EP just 11 years later. Fast forward to present day, they’re coming back together for their official full-length album.together for what they say is their first & only official full-length album.
After the “Sintro”, the first song “Centaurs” is an organ-inflicted boom bap kickstarter to the album where the 4 lyricists compare themselves to that of the Greek mythology creature whereas “This Shit Right Here” is a rugged hip hop quotable fest. As for “Champion” with Planet Asia & Chino XL, I appreciate the content about being victors but the instrumental is just so minimal. However, “Morticians” is a theatrical banger comparing themselves to that of the grim reaper.
Meanwhile on “1 Second”, we have The HRSMN & Hus Kingpin hopping aboard a trap beat saying they spit sicker than COVID-19 before “Love n War” takes a turn into awkward romance ballad territory. “Believer” is a symphonic anthem about celebrating Passover by meeting death & after the “False Profits” skit, we go into a more luxurious sound whilst speaking on their longevity on “Apocalips Now”.
“Impossible” gets on their battle rap shit over a sly instrumental leading up Phil Da Agony, El Gant, Al Tejada & Fokis accompanying the quartet on the keyboard heavy “Burger King” telling anyone to bring the beef to them. Finally there’s the title track, which has occultist vibes in the beat & the supergroup is bidding everyone farewell given the fact that they said this was gonna be their only album.
It took these guys 2 decades to finally put out an LP together & I’m not mad at it being their only one as a unit because I enjoyed quite a bit of it. All 4 emcees sound great with each other & most importantly, the mixing/mastering on here is a lot more cleaner than it was on The Horsemen Project.
Lou from Paradise is a 25 year old MC from Brooklyn, New York breaking out in 2017 off the strength of his debut mixtape Humaniac. This resulted in a short-lived deal with Interscope Records, whom helped him put out his debut album Painkiller Paradise a couple years later. But after keeping a low profile since then, Lou is tapping in Statik Selektah for his 2nd EP.
“Brainless” serves as a classy opener with it’s jazzy undertones & the choir vocals in the instrumental as Lou tells listeners he’s still an asshole to this day. The title track jumps on quirky boom bap production to shove his return in our faces whereas “Antifreeze” is an eerier cut about how shit ain’t faze him in a while.
The gloomy “Cold Shoulder” speaks on how he’d never thought he’d make it out of the hood to give a fuck what others think while the piano-laced penultimate track “Outside wit Psychoz” tells the listener that he doesn’t feel shit. Then there’s “Stray Dog”, which is an off-the-top freestyle accompanied with a devilish beat.
I’ve been waiting 4 years for Lou to drop his magnum opus & I feel like he finally did it on Not Dead Yet!. His lyricism has improved quite a bit since he first came onto the scene & the signature sound Statik Selektah brings to the table suits the kid best.
This is the sophomore album from California trio Oh! The Horror. Emerging a couple years ago off their debut EP The Devil Made Me Do It, they gained even more exposure just last summer by becoming the very 1st act under Majik Ninja Entertainment’s new sub-label Welcome to the Underground & put out their full-length debut Halloween 365. And after a hot streak of singles throughout the first half of 2021, it was only right for Oh! The Horror to return with 1692.
“Strange” is a trap metal opener about how they’ll never change whereas “Let Me Be” is a vicious response to those who ever doubted them. “All’s Fair” goes into a punkier direction as they takes shots a deceitful woman before going emo on all fronts for “Dead Inside”.
Meanwhile on “Alive”, we get a fiery ballad about how thrilling murder is just before the explosive yet suicidal “Bodybag”. We go into an almost alternative direction on the possessive “If I Can’t Have You” leading into the trap metal/industrial fusion that is “Istilldontcare”, which is about giving no fucks.
“Groceries” takes things back into punk territory with them saying they’re always eating their girls’ asses while shifting gears into post-hardcore on “Eating Me Alive”. The song “Never Found” is a chugging ballad about a witch they knows & that leads into the penultimate track “Witch Bitch”, which is a freaky trap metal-flavored follow up. The album then ends with “Tears of Gold” which is a great cover of the Faouzia joint of the same name.
If you go back to my Halloween 365 review, I had stated that Oh! The Horror would start to grow more down the line. And that’s exactly what they just did on 1692. I feel like their sound is more refined, it’s more adventurous, the songwriting has improved & they feel more comfortable in their performances.
This is the brand new collaborative effort between California horrorcore emcees Mi$tuh G & Mak7teen. We’ve heard them on a handful of joints in the past whether it be “G World Order” as well as “Disconnect the Doubt” or even Don Blanco’s “Good Name”, so it was only a matter of time for the duo to come together in a full-length capacity with Your Worst Nightmare.
After the intro, D-Dubb & Lil Sicx come along the atmospheric yet paranoia-themed title track whereas “Smoke” is a glitchy barnburner. Meanwhile on “Know What I Mean”, we go into a more spacious direction as they talk about leaving the murder scene untraceable while “Listen Close” is a grungy trap cut where both of them speak to the higher power. After the “What Are Nightmares?” skit, chopper extraordinaire Twisted Insane stops through for the cold-blooded “Slippin’” leading into the futuristic albeit dejecting “Stay Outta My Face”.
“Off the Gas” if you couldn’t tell is a psychedelic weed anthem & even though I don’t care for Lace Leno’s verse on “Get Yo Money”, I love the diabolical production & it’s theme about stacking your bread. The track “Big Talkin’” gets braggadocious over a bouncy instrumental while the penultimate song “You Ain’t Really” with Fon Check is a dramatic shot at wankstas. After the “Wake Up” skit, “Forever” is a woozy closer with Agape joining Mi$tuh G & Mak7teen to tell their significant others that they’ll always love them.
I was wondering how this would turn out given how dope they sounded together on the 2 songs offG.W.O. (G World Order) & was not let down by it at all. I fuck with the aggressive trap production & their chemistry sounds better than ever before.
This is the 7th full-length album from Ukrainian-American emcee/producer Your Old Droog. Emerging in the underground off his self-titled debut, many first thought he was an alter ego of Nas given that their voices are somewhat similar. Nonetheless, the cat has reached legend status at this point by proving that he was in his own lane off later projects such as Packs & It Wasn’t Even Close. But just a little over 4 months after letting his homie Tha God Fahim produce his 4th EP Tha Wolf on Wall St.from front to back, Droog is dropping TIMEahead of 2 singles in the last week
After the titular intro, the first song “The Magic Watch” speaks on finding a watch that will take you back to any moment in time over some strings & dusty drums whereas “Please Listen to My Jew Tape” is a mellowed out reflection of Droog’s career up to this point. The late MF DOOM comes along to advocate self-education on “Dropout Boogie” as Edan incorporates a pots & pans loop into boom bap production while “So High” is a summery weed smoking anthem.
Meanwhile on “Lost Time”, we have Droog hopping on a drumless instrumental explaining that he has the chips to prove that he’s a winner prior to flexing his lyrical prowess on the slyly-produced “You’re So Sick”. We go into a more guitar-driven direction for the depressive “Quiet Time” leading into Aesop Rock & eLZhi stopping through for the exuberant, pleasant “Field of Dreams”. Blu & Mick Jenkins later fill in on “One Move”, which is about the choices you make accompanied by a jazzy beat from Quelle Chris.
“The Other Way” is a dreary depiction of him avoiding negativity while “A Hip Hop Lullaby” is a smoky look back on riding the train with his mom. “Madson Ave” is a homage to the titular road in New York with slick guitar passages provided by 88-Keys & just before the “4:49” outro, the final song “No Time” taps in with Wiki for a meditative ballad about loving your family & friends when they’re still here.
Didn’t think Droog would drop another project on us this fast, but I’m glad he did because this is an absolute high point in his career The production is a purist’s wet dream & lyrically, you get to hear him at his most personal.
Skyzoo is a 38 year old MC from Brooklyn, New York rising in the underground off the 9th Wonder produced Cloud 9: The 3 Day High. He continued to make a name for himself with a lengthy yet very consistent discography that includes the full-length debut The Salvation, the !llmind produced Live from the Tape Deck, A Dream Deferred, Music for My Friends, the Apollo Brown produced The Easy Truth, In Celebration of Us & my personal favorite: the Pete Rock-produced Retropolitan. Last time we heard from Sky was a year ago with the Father’s Day-themed EP Milestones & knowing his grind, he’s back at it with his 7th album.
“Free Jewelry” starts the album off by sampling Gap Mangione’s “Diana in the Autumn Wind” & lyrics looking back on Sky’s career whereas “St. James Liquor” is a celebratory boom bap banger. Al Skratch of all people appears on the jazzy “A Tour of the Neighborhood”, is which literally a look into the area they grew up in. “Rich Rhetoric” is a intricate breakdown of wealthy backed by a dusty beat while “Bodega Flowers” incorporates some kick-drums & a somewhat funky bass-line accompanying lyrics about appreciation.
Meanwhile on “Something to Believe In”, we get a sample of the iconic Roy Ayers joint “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” along with the concept of being blessed even when Satan is testing him & even though “Humble Brag” speaks for itself conceptually, the vocals in the background are pleasant to the ear. “I Was Supposed to Be a Trap Rapper” takes a look at Skyzoo’s past with JR Swiftz’ production constantly switching from gritty to jazzy while “Plugs & Connections” has rich instrumental & the theme of this is: “ain’t nobody tell nobody what’s to be expected”.
“The Scrimmage” has a hypnotic vocal sample as well as lyrics about minding your limits while we go back to into jazz territory for “Culture-Ish”, which is about passing it down until the baton’s gone. The song “Bed-Stuy’s Burning” speaks on the gentrification of the titular neighborhood accompanied by a live band while the self-produced penultimate track “What Money Taught Us” tells us just that over some keyboards. The album then ends with “Soft Eyes”, which is a glossy romance tune.
It’s always a rejoicing thing whenever this dude drops a project & this is no different from that. Not just because the production has some jazzy undertones to it & some great sample choices, but Skyzoo’s lyricism is at some of it’s most poetic during throughout the whole 56 minutes.
Ransom is a 42 year old MC from Jersey City who came up as 1/2 of the short-lived duo A-Team alongside Hitchcock. After their disbandment, he branched out on his own beginning with his 2008 full-length debut Street Cinema & the Statik Selektah-produced sophomore album The Proposal. But it’s safe to say 2020 was his biggest year yet so far, dropping a total of 5 EPs produced entirely by Nicholas Craven & all of them being equally stellar. And now to warm us up for Ransom’s upcoming albums with Big Ghost Ltd. & Pete Rock respectively, we’re getting a concept EP revolving around the 7 deadly sins.
Craven slides through behind the boards for the soulful opener “Envy” touching down on how jealousy can corrupt oneself whereas V-Don infuses keyboards & dusty boom bap drums on “Gluttony”, where both Ransom & Lloyd Banks mix spiritualism with the street shit they’re known for. Meanwhile on “Greed”, we have Royce da 5’9” tagging along assisting on the theme of selfishness with Lord Sear bringing in some horns into the production before Chup goes into a more rock-tinged sound for the vengeful “Wrath”.
38 Spesh takes things into chipmunk soul territory on “Lust”, which is about how you can see the emotions when your life’s an open book. The penultimate track “Sloth” has a weak verse from J. Arrr at the tail end of it, but I do like the sluggish instrumental as well as Ransom’s lyrics about not letting your master confuse your view. And for the self-produced closer “Pride”, we’re treated to a soul sample much like the opener & a look into egoism.
I knew exactly what I was in for going into this EP & he delivered. Not just because the production is raw yet super diverse, but the concept is executed in a way that feels natural rather than hamfisted or corny. Beyond excited to hear where he’ll take it with Big Ghost & Pete Rock just before 2021 ends.