Madchild is a 45 year old MC from Vancouver, Canada coming up as part of the trio Swollen Members & the founder of Battle Axe Records, but would be until 2012 when he officially broke off solo with his Suburban Noize Records-backed debut album Dope Sick. He would later go on a hot streak of follow-ups including Lawnmower Man, Silver Tongue Devil, the Evidence-produced The Darkest Hour & Demons. But even though he went into a more trap direction on The Little Monster LP last winter, the results of that stylistic change weren’t all that interesting & the sequel he dropped back in the spring The Little Monster LP 2 were slightly better. Nonetheless, I was still very much interested in seeing what Madchild would pull off this double disc 8th full-length album of his.
“Alone” starts off the album with a downcast ballad produced by Jimmy Donn venting about never feeling so lonesome whereas “Boxed In” is a trap cut saying he feels brand new. “MVP” goes into boom bap territory with the help of C-Lance going on about how he “ain’t putting any food on anybody’s plate unless they’re on my team” before declaring himself as an alpha male on the vibraphone heavy “Suck It”.
Meanwhile with “Lone Wolf”, we get a Hellish ode to the 1 Man Gang movement just before jumping on top of a comatose trap beat saying he’s “Underrated”. Of course “Not in Control” addresses his past drug use on top of a post-&-pans instrumental whereas “Mental Hellth” is SLATHERED in auto-tune talking about being the Devil’s play-thing. “God’s Child” works in a symphony saying he was failing the higher power while “Evolved” goes back into that trap sound saying he’s a changed man.
The song “Why I’m Mad” is a misty warning saying you shouldn’t fall for bullshit while the penultimate track “Forgiveness” is a piano ballad apologizing to everyone he’s hurt. Finally there’s “Cojones”, which is an almost electronic-tinged closer talking about swimming with the sharks & dancing with the wolves.
Madchild been grinding hard all year & it’s really been paying off because I think this is a solid effort from him. Dude really takes you through how much he’s bettered himself in the last couple years & the production choices have improved also. I know he said Shane 2 is coming soon & I’m curious to hear where that goes.
This is the long-awaited debut EP from Detroit emcee B-Side. Most notable for being 1/2 of the duo Sidenotes, the man wouldn’t branch off until the release of his debut mixtape The Vertigo 1.5 in the summer of 2013. This was followed up the next year with A Side Called B & then B-Side Wins Again at the tail end of 2018. However, it’s been all leading up to The Essence right here.
“20 Million” kicks things off with a dusty boom bap instrumental from Foul Mouth & the amount B-Side wants until he retires whereas “Mission Statement” takes things into soul/electro turf with the help of Black Bethoven telling you to consider this as such. “Supply & Demand” is a bluesy Sidenotes reunion as if they never left leading into the almost jazzy & vivid story of the “Invisible Man”.
Meanwhile on “Listen Up”, we have Mr. Wrong & Tone Plummer coming into the fold to turn the track into torture porn with an almost funky instrumental just before he takes you on some “A.P.A. (Action Packed Adventures)” with a booming beat from Konnie Ross. The title track has a bit of a spacious feel with the help of Pig Pen reminiscing on his come up as an artist, but then “The One & Only!!” closes things out with a rock-influenced instrumental from DJ Los & lyrics about his uniqueness.
Been a long time coming, but I’m glad this day has finally come because you’re hearing B-Side at his best throughout The Essence. Dude’s pen-game is witty & I dig how he sticks to that vintage hip hop sound.
This is the sophomore album from Rochester emcee Rigz. Coming up as a member of the Da Cloth, the man as released a couple EPs & mixtapes in the last 4 years prior to his critically acclaimed collab album with Mooch & Big Ghost Ltd. entitled The Only Way Out at the tail-end of 2019. Then came Rigz’ full-length debutSubstance Abuse a little over 7 months ago, which was entirely produced by Futurewave & became one of my favorites of last year. However to warm fans up for his upcoming album with DJ Muggs, he’s enlisting Chup for Wake Ups.
“Coconut Water” is a dense opener saying he’ll always have his foot under your neck whereas “Wipe da Timbs Off” enlists Illanoise, Mooch & Times Change for a dramatic anthem representing their crew. Rob Gates comes into the picture on “Trophies” to work in some background vocals & lyrics about proving that you actually fuck with them just before saying he’s the one who’s gonna get it for the family on the chilling “Show You”.
We have Ransom tagging along on the soulful “Da Predicament” to describe their own unpleasant situations & after the “Sobrinos” skit, Rigz jumps on top of a dreary instrumental to tell the listener to “Get Urs”. The guitars on “Let Me” are pretty epic given that he’s talking about wanting to murder a deceitful person leading into Mooch coming back in the picture to talk about how they don’t know what to say because they ain’t got to say shit for the rich “Beach Chairs in Marcy”.
Meanwhile on “Misled”, we have Rigz & Times Change pondering the value of trust over a piano & a vocal sample whereas “No Mercy Rule” with M.A.V. & Symph is a killer rap rock cut with all 3 spitters talking their shit. The song “Swole Hearted” serves as a dejected depiction of how someone can get a cold heart sometimes while the penultimate track “Throw It Away” is a symphonic plea not to waste your gift. Finally, the closer “Grateful” has a soul sample & lyrics about his gratitude.
If you loved Substance Abuse as much as I did, then I don’t see why wouldn’t enjoy Wake Ups on the same caliber. Dude continues to prove himself as one of the illest lyricists in New York at the moment & Chup really hones in on the raw production. Beyond excited to hear what he has in store with Muggs.
This is the 5th full-length album from Jersey City emcee Ransom. Coming up as 1/2 of the short-lived duo A-Team alongside Hitchcock, he branched out on his own following their disbandment 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. Then the dude dropped 7 last month, which is a well executed concept EP based around the 7 deadly sins. However, all of this has been leading up to Heavy is the Head produced by Big Ghost Ltd. from start to finish.
“Lord Stark” starts off the album with a 1 minute skit & then Ransom jumping over some heavy synths to see who can propel higher than him whereas “All the Kings Men” is pretty much Mickey Factz & J. Arrr tagging along to leave a piano instrumental scarred up like they said they would at the end of the first verse. “Ransom the Destroyer” works in a Viking-esque beat to proclaim himself as such just before RJ Payne assists him for the symphonic battle rap cut “The Red Wedding”.
After the “King’s Intermission” interlude, “Tyranny” is a heartbreaking portrayal of how people are cold blooded while “Blackwater” is a rock-tinged barfest appetizing heads for his upcoming collab album with Rome Streetz. The penultimate song “Off With His Head” with the Heavy Metal Kings & Lou from Paradise is basically the quartet quenching for blood over a dusty instrumental & after the “King’s Landing” interlude, the closer “A King’s Ransom” has these haunting choir vocals throughout & it’s about how a fortune is granted to whoever hands him a traitor.
I’ve been listening to this dude for almost a decade now & I gotta say: Heavy is the Head is the best body of work that Ransom has attached his name to yet & one of the best things you’ll hear in 2021. Dude’s in his prime lyrically & Big Ghost’s production is epic as fuck! God can only imagine how his next album with Pete Rock will sound.
S.O.N. is an MC from Sharon, Pennsylvania notable for his associations with the Legion Realm & the Hivemind movement. But for his official full-length debut over here, he has enlisted Billy Obey produce the whole thing from top to bottom which immediately caught my attention given that Billy is 1/3 of what I personally believe to be the greatest horrorcore act to come up within the last decade: Alla Xul Elu.
After the “A Terrible Fate” intro, the title track is a Hellish opener speaking on dark energy surrounding him whereas “E.V.I.L. (Everything Vile Inside Legion)” takes a turn into boom bap territory repping the Legion Realm. “King of Dark Energy” proclaims himself as such on top of an occult instrumental while “Breathe” somberly depicts a dark messiah encouraging this man & woman to become a part of him.
Meanwhile after “The Descent” interlude, but “The Mouth of Madness” grotesquely depicts a place where only the strong survive just before Xul themselves tag along to embrace their sins for quasi-rap rock tinged “Amen”. He later fucks with Samaritan witchcraft on the misty “The Bridge” leading into him talking about losing his mind for the dusty “What’s That Noise?”.
Following the “Order of the Blue Rose” interlude, “Feed the Beast” takes the trap route to describe the antichrist whereas the heinous “Eye for an Eye” talks about a demon being summoned by the tears of the broken. The penultimate track “The Blessing” calls to a higher power in wicked boom bap fashion & then the closer “The Hive” talks about a beast that goes by many names accompanied by a buzzing instrumental.
I can only imagine S.O.N. going places from hereon out because I highly enjoyed what he brought to the table with Grant Us Eyes. Dude’s lyrics are amongst the darkest that you’ll hear all 2021 & of course Billy Obey knocks it out of the park on the production end of things.
This is the 6th EP from renown Huntington Beach g-punk outfit (həd) p.e., which has always been masterminded by Jahred Gomes despite it’s revolving door of members throughout the 27 years they’ve been together. Standouts in the crew’s discography include their self-titled debut, Broke, Back 2 Base X, Insomnia, New World Orphans, Truth Rising & even their previous album Class of 2020 that came out the day before Broke’s 20 year anniversary last summer. It was originally intended to be the group’s last effort for a while but due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the 2020 presidential election & the birth of Jahred’s daughter, (həd) p.e. is channeling all of their inspiration from all 3 of those events into Sandmine with the help of Suburban Noize Records backing it.
The title track is a thrashy opener quenching for blood whereas “False Prophets” serves as a punky jab at Donald Trump. The song “R.T.R. (Respect The Republic)” goes into rap rock territory talking about rebellion while the penultimate track “Deathtrip” is a skate punk joint with Jahred talking about risking his life. Finally there’s “Let Me Know”, which is a reggae rock cut trying to figure out what’s on his lovers’ mind.
Class of 2020 was a great throwback to (həd) p.e.’s roots & Sandmine is just as great to me personally. Once again, they’re taking it back to the basics except Jahred & company sound a lot more pissed off than they did when we last heard them 11 months prior.
This is the 5th full-length album from Harlem emcee UFO Fev. Coming up in 2014 off his debut album Around My Way., it wasn’t until 2020 when he saw his biggest year yet by dropping not 1 but 3 well received projects: the Statik Selektah-produced sophomore effort Fresh Air along with the Termanology-produced debut EP From El Barrio, With Love & the Big Ghost Ltd.-produced 3rd album The Ghost of Albizu. Dude just dropped Magnum Opus last month & is already enlisting Vanderslice for the follow-up Enigma of Dalí.
After the titular intro, the first song “Crack Shifts” is an eerie boom bap opener with him & Flee Lord talking about that’s exactly what they be workin’ whereas “Moody Bass” has a more rich instrumental & Fev saying he’s gonna take this shit mainstream. Red Inf tags along for the mellow “Pack Flip” talking about a plan to wake up the masses just before advising to keep it off the speakerphone when talking money on “Home Team”, which has some amazing sampling throughout.
Meanwhile with “Artfully Done Street Shit”, we have Red Inf returning over a guitar & some dusty drums calling out those stealing the sauce leading into him saying he’s too far over the top on the dusty albeit piano-laced “Scroll Music”. The song “Jazz Criminals” with SmooVth fittingly has a jazzy beat with both of them getting mafioso while the penultimate track “Scarlett Letters” jumps on top of some violins to state that he’s painting like Salvador Dalí. Then there’s the closer “All That Glitters, where Fev & Sure Shot come together for a slick romance ballad.
Magnum Opus was cool, but I personally prefer Enigma of Dalí better. Vanderslice’s production is much more consistent than it was on Fev’s last album & the dude continues to reveal himself as one of the illest MCs in the New York underground right now.
Bolt Seminar is a newly formed duo consisting of Switzerland producer John Sarastro & Brooklyn emcee Dell Wells, the latter of whom dropped his full-length debut Clandestine Picnic last summer. Now I’m not exactly sure how these guys’ paths crossed with one another, but was morbidly curious to hear what they would bring to the table on this self-titled album of theirs.
“The Gnawing” starts out the album with a warping boom bap instrumental & lyrics proclaiming himself as “the nightmare with no end” before encouraging listeners to be appalled on “Tone Def”, which goes for a more psychedelic sound. “Cuckold Manifest” is a spacious cut addressing how the world’s in love with hip hop whereas the CRF-assisted “Kurplunk 2” finds the pair going on saying that MCing is the only life they’ve ever known with a cavernous beat.
Meanwhile with “Bloody Shoelaces”, we get a dark tribute to his fallen homies leading into the dusty yet synth-laced “Cellular Diaries” that tells a story of him falling in love with an Android in which Bliss portrays in the song. Dell showcases his lyrical prowess with the futuristic “Gargle” prior to him expressing to be shown something greater on the saxophone-induced “Taming of the Shrewd”.
Amazing July tags along for the apocalyptic albeit atmospheric “Abandonment Issues” while opening up on talking endlessly with shadows for the dancy “Chatterbox”. The penultimate track “Succubus” on top of a grungy instrumental & finally there’s “One”, which is a endearing tribute to all the children in the world who’re suffering from cancer.
Coming away from Bolt Seminar, I’m pretty impressed. John’s production is kinda reminiscent to that of El-P’s & the dystopian imagery that Dell paints through his songwriting fits like a glove. If this truly is the first of many musical journeys to come from the duo, then I’m all here for it.
Ali Cashius Jr. is a 35 year old MC from Detroit, Michigan who first emerged a decade ago off the strength of his debut album A Message 4 tha People. This was followed up with The Barrio Boombox in 2018 & after dropping a handful of well-received singles within the last 3 years, Ali is back in effect for his long-awaited 3rd album.
“1985” serves as a hypnotic boom bap introduction to the world that created him whereas the Joell Ortiz-assisted “No Justice No Peace” serves as a passionate response to George Floyd’s murder. He delves into spirituality with the somber “Bismillah” before hoping his pain will be taken away on the jazzy “Broken”. Meanwhile for “Rude Boi”, we have Ali & Big Preme taking things into reggae territory leading into him & HK Meek propping up their “Day 1’s”, which almost has a west coast flare to it instrumentally. Futuristic tags along to ask if they can hear them now on trap-tinged “Hello” leading into the seductive “Parallel Parking”.
“Leave Me Alone” reunites Ali with HK Meek to say they have a lot on their mind over a guitar & hi-hats, but then Big Preem shows back up for “Caribbean Blues” to say they wrote the song for their beautiful warrior. “Desperados” is a slow trap cut opening up about seduction while “Tina’s Song” is a beautiful dedication to Ali’s older sister of the same name. Then there’s the title track, where Ali & Dags come together to victoriously talk about ballin’ in the skyline.
I really enjoyed a good portion of the singles that this guy has dropped in the last few years, so I was curious to hear how he would sound on this album & I ending up digging it. I feel like he kinda overdid it with the features since nearly half the songs on here have one, but his the production is on point & his pen-game is relentless.
Cabal is a newly formed supergroup consisting of Bukshot, Lo Key & Mr. Grey. Up to this point each of the members have worked with one another, but we haven’t heard them all together at once. Bukshot just dropped Double Dragon’s self-titled debut with Kung Fu Vampire back in February & just about a month ago, Lo Key put out a his Metanoia EP paying homage to nu metal. I also loved Gorilla Voltage’s 2 albums through Majik Ninja Entertainment (especially Gods & Claws), so I’m very excited to see what they trio are gonna pull off on this debut album of theirs. Especially since they got Seven behind the boards for the whole thing.
After the “Monolith of Xaos” intro, the first song “Horn of Hades” is a heinous look at the trio having crazy thoughts as of late whereas “Shadow People” goes into a trap direction talking about being stuck in a familiar place. The title track works in some haunting synth melodies saying they don’t like what they see & after the “Dark Assembly” skit, the trio come back to in action to proclaim themselves as “Death Merchants”. Meanwhile on “The Spawning”, we get a dastardly depiction of Cabal being Hellspawn just before taking listeners through their inner turmoils on the petrifying “Madness in Me”.
I think “Devil Inside” has the best hook on the entire album as the trio speak on something in them wandering the darkness spiritually & after the “Offering of Souls” skit, the song “Don’t Go in the Basement” works in some organ & synth melodies to paint a picture of Hell. The penultimate track “Maelstrom” with the Super Famous Fun Guys & the Venomous 5 finds the 10 emcees aggressively proclaiming themselves as the wickedest creatures, but then “Phanchasm” ends the album by talking about learning things you should never learn.
If you loved the Double Dragon album, then you might enjoy The Watchers just as much it not more. All 3 of the members have great chemistry with one another & Seven just knocks it out of the park in terms of the overall sound of it.