Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ugly Heroes- Ugly Heroes (Album)

From left to right: Apollo Brown, Verbal Kent, Red Pill

Ugly Heroes are a Detroit hip-hop outfit consisting of rappers Verbal Kent and Red Pill and prolific producer Apollo Brown. Now if you've really been tuned in, you know that Apollo Brown has been killing it for a minute, especially going toe-to-toe with the legendary Guilty Simpson on Dice Game, a fantastic album that's become an operatic emblem of Detroit hip-hop. His beats are full of sound and power, sampling soul and Motown and chopping it up into lurching bangers. Verbal Kent and Red Pill are almost indistinguishable, but both are always on point with the lyrics, flow and that underground ferocity. The track "Graves" should be resonant with anyone worried about getting stuck on their grind " their graves." I loved the album, go cop it, and respect these selects.

Friday, June 21, 2013

IamSu!- Kilt II (Mixtape)

IamSu! is a West Coast rapper hailing from the Bay Area whose first mixtape, Kilt, caught my attention from its colorful cover, and even more colorful panorama of beats. What made Kilt potent was its deft combination of that hyphy, electro-banger sound that defines the Bay Area with more conventional rapping and a blunt-infused airiness. That tape included "Mainey", "Poppin Bands (feat. Berner)" and "Clothes, Shows and Afros" as well as many other strong tracks, so go look it up on Datpiff. His second effort is the sequel: Kilt II. Honestly, it's not as strong as his first mixtape, and it's chock full of poppy, R&B cuts almost certainly aimed at California daytime radio play. But pop instincts aside, Kilt II definitely has its moments. He's sticking to the smoked out hyphy sound with production mostly from himself and collaborator P-Lo, and when it works, it goes in. My selections are "Rep That Gang", "Return of the Mac" and the "100 Grand" remix with Juvenile, Problem and Kool John that came as a bonus track.

Yung Simmie- Off The Dank (feat. Nell) (Video)

 Yung Simmie remains a site-favorite rapper as the young Raider Klan representer continues to kill it after his first two major mixtapes, XXL Freshman 1993: The Underground Tape and Basement Musik. At the moment, Simmie is working with the Klan to drop his junior effort, tentatively titled Shut Up and Vibe. Hopefully we'll receive some more of that 90's inspired rapping over the Klan's trademark dark, funky beats. Here's the video for the first track off the upcoming mixtape; this one features Nell and it's got me pumped for the release, so stay peeped for the full review. Also, this seems as good a time as any to drop some of Simmie's great older tracks as we wait.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Prodigy & Alchemist- Albert Einstein (Album)

Being a longtime stan of Mobb Deep, I was duly excited to see that Prodigy and Alchemist were dropping a new project. But I've been taking Alchemist production credits with a grain of salt as of late because he's chosen to pursue a more experimental route, seeking a psychedelic, lo-fi sound instead of sticking to his traditional NY thug-bap. This isn't necessarily a bad thing and I've fucked with some of his recent works (i.e. Rare Chandeliers with Action Bronson and Durag Dynasty's 360 Waves). But others, like Russian Roulette only minimally clicked with me. I'm happy to say, Albert Einstein is fantastic. He's taken up elements of that psychedelia and melded them with the thug heartbeat pulse of his mid-00's work. Prodigy, aka Illuminati P, weaves tales of New York ghetto violence into a tapestry of paranoia, trauma and experience that isn't easy to shake off. Okay, so just listen, my choices are "Imdkv", "Give 'Em Hell" and "Death Sentence (feat. Roc Marciano)", but do yourself a favor and listen to the whole album; it's a work of art.

Ethelwulf- The Wolf Gang Rodolphe (Mixtape)

Now, I've been bumping this mixtape for a while, and as many of you know, Raider Klan has been consistently putting out great music for a minute. Ethelwulf, although he no longer claims affiliation with the Klan, is one of the group's strongest members creatively, and this tape exemplifies his exquisite taste in hip-hop sonics. He draws from the smoked-out 90's Bone Thugs N Harmony sound that has reemerged, and raps with the skill and tenacity of the group's best moments. These three songs are each different, but "All Black Who Is That" stands out with its retro videogame sample and ever-changing flows. So here are "All Black Who Is That", "Watch Yo Back" and "Bluntz On My Mind" from Ethelwulf's "The Wolf Gang Rodolphe" which you can cop on Datpiff.