When one of The Lox members decides to take over the mic and release new music, the first thing we do is open our ears wide and listen carefully. The rhymes, charisma, personality and experience of these legendary MC’s go beyond the concept of music and entertainment. Every time they rhyme their concepts, they essentially offer the listener a condensed set of rules, behaviors, examples, good manners and codes that testify and indicate the way of how a man should lead his life in an integral and solid way. This is also what Styles P offers, in short, on “Penultimate: A Calm Wolf Is Still A Wolf”, reminding us why he should be counted among the greatest living emcees of this culture and how he earned the title of “Gentleman & Gangsters”.
Let’s start immediately with a disclaimer: the album in question was released on streaming platforms during the last days of 2022, but not having had time to include it in any of our year-end rankings and being, in our opinion, one of the best albums released recently, we felt compelled to offer it to you in the first musical recommendations of this 2023. IWANNAFXCKCARMENHAYES is, in fact, the manifesto and apex of the genius and uniqueness of the rapper with Dominican origins Estee Nack, who fit perfectly the sound carpet on the incredible productions of Grubby Pawz and show off his unmistakable style, which also made the patron of Griselda Records, Westside Gunn, “fall in love” with him and about to produce a new Nack’s album. In fact, the rapper from Lynn (Massachusetts), near Boston, with a navigated past in the American underground scene (as a member of the Tragic Allies) has, over the years, developed a delivery and a hoarse voice, like-corroded by alcohol and smoke, unique and distinctive, with which he mixes the Five Percenters ” Knowledge” and Mathematics and his experience of the streets, seasoning everything with substantial doses of sarcasm and the the Dominican Republic idiom. Ah, add to it that Grubby Pawz has long since become one of our favorite producers, you’ll understand why this project would deserves 5 stars!
We have already told you in the past on these pages how the city of Richmond (Virginia) is the place where an exceptional underground artistic movement has risen and incredibly talented producers and rappers militate. As proof of this, here is a new tape that, if you love cool atmospheres and some of the best-quality soul samples, you cannot miss. In fact, over the waves of the, as usual, beautiful productions composed by the Mutant Academy beatmakers, Graymatter Ma and Foisey, Monday Night and 3wayslim, who joined forces for the occasion, perfectly surf, crafting a project that puts head, heart and ears at peace.
If there’s one word that best describes Rochester, New York rapper Eto and his lyrical ability, it’s “street-poet”. Poetic, in fact, is his way of interpreting reality, life, pain, the experience of the cold streets of Rochester, NY, recounting all this in a unique, cryptic, intelligent and, in an absolutely non-trivial way. The Canadian producer Futurewave finds the formula and produces the musical accompaniment suitable for the flow of Eto’s illuminating words. Dead Poets is a clear manifesto of the vision of rap and life according to the phenomenal Upstate New York MC. If you are interested in understanding and better understanding this vision, we strongly advise you to tune in to the interview we recently addressed to both authors of this beautiful project.
The formidable run of Mickey Diamond and the Umbrella Collective picks up where it ended at the end of 2022, laying the foundations for what could be the year of the definitive consecration of the Detroit rapper and the collective to which he belongs. In fact, Mickey Diamond restarts 2023 with a new collaborative concept album together with producer Ral Duke entitled Oroku Saki, paying homage on the artwork to both MF Doom and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villain, Shredder. The formula is always the same, in which Mickey Diamond gives free field to his braggadocio rap and raw voice, on classic-flavored beats, but, we can’t find any reason why he should not still adhere to it, if it’s successful and perfectly functional and oiled.
There are only 3 songs that make up this short EP, entitled DARK SHOGUNN ASSASSIN, but in our opinion they are sufficient to summarize the artistic manifesto of the musical and cultural renaissance, which like a fire rose from the ashes among the American underground hip-hop scene and spread all over the world. It is no coincidence that Tha God Fahim and Camoflauge Monk are both to be considered among the “behind the scenes” creators and eyewitnesses of the acts which, such as, for example, the beginnings of the better known Griselda Records, gave rise to this movement renaissance. Camoflauge Monk on the machines best represents that artistic research behind the samples selection, accompanied by a dusty and raw cuts that gives the sound part that touch of novelty, typical of the aesthetic imprint of this wave. On the other side, Tha God Fahim lets his words flow like an instrument, not only as if he were simply rhymes, but preaching his own philosophy of life.
The 667Ekip is, in our opinion, the crew, the movement, the label of the moment in France, capable of giving shape and making its own a well-defined aesthetic imprint and a crude imagery, with very few rivals in Europe and not only. If Freeze Corleone is the best-known exponent of this “clan”, each member contributes to reinforcing the unity, coherence and strength of it. Take for example KKG II, Slim C‘s latest project is perhaps one of the clearest demonstrations of what has been written above. Although, in fact, different influences can be appreciated in terms of sound, this project has the advantage of being able to maintain a solid coherence for the entire duration, evoking the raw and underground atmospheres of the French banlieues blocks, thanks also to the grimey and cold rap of Slim C.
The Brixton rapper of Moroccan origins Ard Adz has managed to build indipendently a large transversal fan base, without compromising his message and the integrity of his rap, representing the spirit of the streets and council houses of the well-known London working class area. Pain and a sense of revenge animate the rhymes of this rapper, who, even in this street tape, Underdog remains loyal to the ways that raised him and launched him in the rap game as an underdog, despite the fact that he is now on the road to build his success.