REVIEW| HIP-HOP GEMS THAT DROPPED LAST MONTH (FT @blackthought @TheDoppelgangaz @NolanTheNinja and more)

A month where beef caught the head­lines, vet­er­ans sur­prised us and the vari­ety of releases once again demon­strated how diverse hip-hop has become…

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Curren$y & Harry Fraud – The Mar­ina EP (Jet Life Record­ings)
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The New Orleans nat­ive con­nects with Harry Fraud for a lux­uri­ous, soul-sample driv­en EP in what appears to be a nev­er-end­ing siege of free releases that he con­tin­ues to bless his fan base with. The Mar­ina EP arrives in per­fect time for the warm­er weather.

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The Dop­pel­gangaz – Aaaaggghh (Groggy Pack Enter­tain­ment LLC)
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The duo have built a dis­co­graphy and fan base that have turned them into house­hold names in the US under­ground scene and their latest album is a throw­back to their earli­er work. Clev­er word­play and gritty pro­duc­tion help to cement their status as one of the most con­sist­ent groups.

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Payroll Gio­van­ni – 4–1P (BYLUG Ent. LLC)

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With one top qual­ity album under his belt already in 2018 (Big Boss­in’ Vol. 2 was released in Janu­ary) the Detroit rap­per goes 2 for 2 with his fol­low-up, once again using lively pro­duc­tion and a com­mand­ing pres­ence to lay down drug tales and street nar­rat­ives.

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Plan­et Asia – Mansa Musa (X-Ray Records)

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Seem­ingly get­ting bet­ter with age the West Coast vet­er­an blesses fans with yet another album. Littered with fea­tures from not­able names from both coasts this is a densely lyr­ic­al affair that retains the dis­tinct­ive traits of the West Coast under­ground scene for another qual­ity addi­tion to his rap­idly expand­ing cata­logue.

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Pusha T – DAYTONA (Get­ting Out Our Dreams, Inc. / Def Jam Record­ings)
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The most-talked about rap­per in May makes his return with a sev­en-track release fully pro­duced by Kanye West. Although not up to the heights of clas­sic Clipse mater­i­al this is a con­cise, well-executed pro­ject that’s worthy of the hype and is Pusha’s most impress­ive solo work to date.

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Nolan The Ninja – CRUD / $UD$ (Self-Released)
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Detroit’s Nolan The Ninja has been mak­ing noise with his impress­ive skills behind the mic as well as his beat-mak­ing abil­it­ies. This pair of instru­ment­al releases show­cases his ded­ic­a­tion for dig­ging deep into the crates and flip­ping samples into dusty, lo-fi beats, sprink­ling verses from renowned emcees over them.

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Benny – A Friend Of Ours (Griselda Records)
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The Buf­falo, NY rap­per has been stead­ily build­ing his repu­ta­tion with street tales delivered with impec­cable clar­ity. He brings more of the same on this release and his tech­nic­al rap­ping abil­ity ensures that, even when the pro­duc­tion is lack­ing, he holds the listen­ers atten­tion with his sharp­ness and con­fid­ence.

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Play­boi Carti – Die Lit (AWGE / Inter­scope Records)
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While young­er rap­pers, par­tic­u­larly those lean­ing into “mumble rap” ter­rit­ory, can incur the wrath of the older gen­er­a­tion it’s hard to deny the enter­tain­ing, ener­get­ic charm of Play­boi Carti who pieces togeth­er a thor­oughly enjoy­able album full of adlibs and catchy hooks.

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Par­lia­ment – Medi­caid Fraud Dogg (C Kun­spyr­uhzy Records Inc.)

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Hip-hop owes more to George Clin­ton than can ever be quan­ti­fied and this sur­prise return from his group Par­lia­ment, fully 38 years since their last release, is a wel­come dosage of raunchy funk. Inspired by their dis­dain of the phar­ma­ceut­ic­al industry this release pulls the group into 2018 with its updated sound but without los­ing the cha­ris­ma and eccent­ric bril­liance that made them so icon­ic.

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Stal­ley – Tell The Truth Shame The Dev­il Vol. 3 (Blue Col­lar Gang)
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The final piece of this tri­logy, the under­rated Ohio rap­per con­tin­ues to impress since trad­ing main­stream oppor­tun­it­ies for cre­at­ive con­trol. Shift­ing between intro­spect­ive and high-energy tracks this will be the over­looked 7-track release of the month but is deserving of atten­tion.

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$ha Hef – Kom­munity Ser­vice (Black Mar­ket Records)

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3half

 

 

11-tracks of dark, men­acing intens­ity from the Bronx bomber who deliv­ers drug nar­rat­ives with a cold con­vic­tion and adds to his grow­ing repu­ta­tion as one of the grit­ti­est rap­pers around.

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Black Thought & 9th Won­der – Streams Of Thought Vol. 1 EP (Human Re Sources)
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On paper this release should sit at the top of the stack this month, even if it only runs five songs deep. The front man for the world fam­ous The Roots crew finally steps out of his group and into solo ter­rit­ory, opt­ing for 9th Wonder’s legendary soul flips. Although it’s a good release fans will hope this serves as a warm-up to a full album rather than remain­ing a stand-alone release.

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Con­fid­ence – Pro­duce What You Feel (Self-Released)
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The Boston-based pro­du­cer has been behind some crim­in­ally under­rated releases since the turn of the dec­ade and his won­der­ful soul flips and pound­ing drums have been among the most impress­ive 90s-influ­enced pro­duc­tion in recent times. This 21-track instru­ment­al release brings more of the same, although many of the beats are cry­ing out for an emcee to wreak hav­oc over them.

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Arti­facts – That’s Them (Lost Files 1989–1992) (Smoke On Records)
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When it comes to under­rated 90s groups Tame One and El Da Sen­sei can stake their claim to be among the names most deserving to be acknow­ledged. Two excel­lent releases solid­i­fied their status as hip-hop legends and now Smoke On Records have released 12 early demo record­ings. Although the sound qual­ity suf­fers at times and these are clearly before they hit their prime on their pair of near-per­fect albums this is still a nos­tal­gic listen from two top tier emcees. 

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Kanye West – Ye (Get­ting Out Our Dreams II, LLC Dis­trib­uted By Def Jam)
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Wheth­er you love or hate him there is no deny­ing his influ­ence and tal­ent. On this sev­en-track release Kanye is in reflect­ive mood but per­haps lack­ing the auda­city of his pre­vi­ous works. Those who are wait­ing for the Col­lege Dro­pout Kanye to return may want to skip this but for oth­ers it is worth a listen.

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ASAP Rocky — Test­ing (RCA Records)
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At one point ASAP Rocky had the world at his feet but a couple of mis­steps have left him in need of a big release. TEST­ING has its moments but ASAP risks being lost among­st the shuffle with an album that, des­pite its highs, doesn’t sep­ar­ate him from the densely packed, fast-mov­ing main­stream hip-hop scene.

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Con­way & SonnyJim – Death By Mis­ad­ven­ture (Daupe)
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Conway’s status in the game has been cemen­ted by a flurry of high-pro­file, well-received releases over the last few years but his latest release falls a bit short. Con­nect­ing with UK rap­per SonnyJim this pro­ject lacks the focus and dir­ec­tion of his bet­ter releases.

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DJ Jazzy Jeff  M3 (Playl­ist Music)
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DJ Jazzy Jeff is one of hip-hop’s most icon­ic faces, a true pion­eer and rep­res­ent­at­ive of the cul­ture for over 30 years. This album, while being a solid release, may­be doesn’t quite do justice to his truly legendary status but is nev­er­the­less an enjoy­able listen.

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Royce Da 5′9″ – Book Of Ryan (Heav­en Stu­di­os, Inc. & Enter­tain­ment One U.S., LP)

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Royce has always pos­sessed an immense tech­nic­al abil­ity which is rivalled by only a hand­ful of rap­pers. How­ever, like many in this cat­egory it can prove chal­len­ging trans­lat­ing this tal­ent into albums worthy of the abil­ity they pos­sess. The standout tracks are excel­lent but the over­all con­sist­ency of this album makes it a frus­trat­ing listen.

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Rae Srem­murd– SR3MM (Eardru­ma Records / Inter­scope Records)
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Rae Sremmurd’s third album is three sep­ar­ate pro­jects released under one name. Fea­tur­ing two solo pro­jects and one col­lect­ive pro­ject this fea­tures enough high-energy pro­duc­tion and mod­ern flows to sat­is­fy the hyper­act­ive young­er listen­er but may lack the range and depth to encour­age repeated listen­ing.

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Alex Gordon

Alex Gordon

Between 9–5 I’m a pas­sion­ate teach­er for teen­agers with spe­cial needs and dis­en­gaged young people. From 5–9 I’m a left-wing hip-hop head who fell in love with the music in the mid-90’s. Also have an equal love for jazz, soul and funk, am an avid record col­lect­or, lov­er of live shows and occa­sion­al DJ.

About Alex Gordon

Alex Gordon
Between 9-5 I'm a passionate teacher for teenagers with special needs and disengaged young people. From 5-9 I'm a left-wing hip-hop head who fell in love with the music in the mid-90’s. Also have an equal love for jazz, soul and funk, am an avid record collector, lover of live shows and occasional DJ.