When a project is stamped by the Californian producer The Alchemist it can only mean the product is very high quality. The brilliant beatmaker lays down the perfect instrumental backdrop for the Detroit street stories that rapper Boldy James spits in his deep, baritone voice. The harmony between beat and flow in “The Price of Tea In China” (with exceptional features by Benny The Butcher, Vince Staples, Freddie Gibbs and Evidence) is so perfect that it feels like watching a movie in audio format.
One of the hidden jewels in Richmond’s Hip Hop scene is the home team Mutant Academy. After dropping an excellent album by Big Kahuna OG last month, M.A now releases “At The End Of The Day” by Fly Anakin. This project showcases incredible work by the team’s producers Graymatter and Ohbliv. This latest effort by Fly Anakin & Co, demonstrates once again how music and street art, within the Hip Hop realm, enjoy a symbiotic relationship providing inspiration for one another. The skits within the album (and the photo below) are a testament to this as Fly Anakin and Ohbliv have recently been celebrated in a mural by street artist Westergard.
The latest effort by Detroit veteran Royce Da 5’9’’, titled “The Allegory”, doesn’t make for easy listening and needs to be played a few times with constant reference to the lyrics in order to be well digested. As the title suggests, nothing is as it seems on first glance and it is necessary to rid ourselves of the chains of preconception if we want to fully understand something. The Detroit lyricist introduces the Platonic concept of the “cave allegory” in this self-produced record. It is an analysis of modern day western culture, social media and the music industry where nothing should be taken on face value.
V-Don is definitely one of the most underestimated beatmakers to come out of New York in the last few years. Coming from Harlem USA, V-Don has already produced numerous tracks for Dave East, Vado, Smoke Dza and has released prestigious collaborations with Willie Tha Kid, Dark Lo and Eto among others. His latest project Black Mass features all the aforementioned Mc’s plus other standout underground rappers. It is a journey behind dark tints through America’s most sinister streets.
Memphis (Tennessee) has had a huge influence on the Southern Hip Hop sound: the Tr-808 drum machine and the so called “triplet-flow”, made popular by the Atlanta scene, were both originally pioneered in the 90’s by Tennessee natives such as Three Six Mafia and 8Ball&MJG. Duke Deuce (son of local rapper Duke Nitty) releases the second chapter of the Memphis Massacre mixtape series. This project is steeped in the Triple 6 golden era sound but with a contemporary perspective.
Our followers may be surprised to find “Routine Ep” by Shiva, a young rapper coming out of West Milan, in this column. We have to admit we are also surprised. Although his sound may be compared to American young prodigies such as NBA Youngboy or Polo G he manages to set himself apart. The product he offers here is very well put together and doesn’t fall into the category of the “fake” commercial sound we are used to on Italian radio. Shiva clearly shows that he doesn’t need to copy his peers from the ghettos of Chicago and Baltimore by talking about guns and drugs (like many Italian pseudo-trappers do), but rather that he can portray the reality of today’s 20 year olds living in the city’s peripheral neighbourhoods.