REVIEW | DO NOT SLEEP ON THESE US HIP-HOP ALBUMS RELEASED IN MARCH 2018

A month dom­in­ated by vet­er­ans of the under­ground vying to keep their space and rel­ev­ance in a densely pop­u­lated scene…

Le$ — Texas Rattlesnake (Slfemp Music LLC., SxS)

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The latest in a relent­less bom­bard­ment of high-qual­ity releases from the Hou­s­ton rap­per. Stick­ing to the for­mu­la of laid-back beats, mar­ry­ing G-Funk with a South­ern twist, and weav­ing his life­style raps effort­lessly between them he deliv­ers another great addi­tion to his rap­idly-expand­ing cata­logue.

Murs — A Strange Jour­ney Into The Unima­gin­able (Strange Music, Inc.)

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West-Coast vet­er­an Murs joins forces with pro­du­cer Michael “Sev­en” Sum­mers to cre­ate a per­son­al and insight­ful album. Jazzy, soul­ful beats dom­in­ate but there is some vari­ation to lift the mood and remind fans that his trade­mark sense of humour has not gone miss­ing des­pite his per­son­al prob­lems.

PRhyme – PRhyme 2 (PRhyme Records)

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Argu­ably the greatest hip-hop pro­du­cer of all time, DJ Premi­er, and Detroit lyr­i­cist Royce Da 5’9” have been cre­at­ing mem­or­able music for close to two dec­ades. This fol­low-up to 2014’s debut col­lab­or­a­tion album sees Pre­mo bring an updated sound to his sig­na­ture pro­duc­tion. There are some ter­rible mis­ses which will require the skip but­ton but luck­ily these are few and far between. Over­all there are more than enough tracks which should sat­is­fy most boom-bap heads.

Phon­te – No News Is Good News (The For­eign Exchange Music)

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The Little Brother emcee returns with a fol­low-up to 2011’s Char­ity Starts At Home and, aside from one track, leaves the singing to one side to focus on his undeni­able rap­ping abil­it­ies. While not as mem­or­able as some of his clas­sic works this is still a wel­come release full of soul­ful pro­duc­tion, densely lyr­ic­al bars and pure hon­esty. The hyper­act­ive young­er listen­er may struggle with this kind of album but it’s an excel­lent slice of grown man hip-hop.

MED & Guilty Simpson – Loy­alty EP (Bang Ya Head)

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Oxford, Cali­for­nia rap­per MED and Detroit’s Guilty Simpson are no strangers to each oth­er from their Stones Throw affil­i­ation and join forces for a short EP pro­ject. Fea­tur­ing con­tri­bu­tions from Blu, Black Milk, Exile and Mndsgn this serves as an excel­lent pre­lude to their upcom­ing album which will be released later this year.

Chuck Strangers – Con­sumers Park (Nature Sounds)
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The Pro Era rap­per serves up an ode to the golden-age on his debut pro­ject. Dusty samples and per­fectly placed scratches help cre­ate 90s nos­tal­gia with an updated sound. The 26-year-old dis­plays a youth­ful energy but a reflect­ive wis­dom on this impress­ive release.

West­SideGunn & Mr. Green — FLY­GOD Is Good All The Time EP (Nature Sounds)

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West­side Gunn joins forces with pro­du­cer Mr. Green on this six-track EP. The for­mu­la is straight­for­ward with Green’s beats cre­at­ing the ideal sound for WSG’s nas­ally, high-pitched voice which he uses to scat­ter his sim­ple yet cha­ris­mat­ic rhymes.

Poly­es­ter The Saint – Amer­ic­an Muscle 5.0 (Hel­la­good Pro­duc­tions)

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The Los Ange­les-based rapper/producer returns with another impress­ive album. For fans who crave that laid­back West-Coast pro­duc­tion and smoothly delivered rhymes and hooks this is well worth a listen.

A.G. & John Robin­son – Epi­phany EP (Red Apples 45)

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With Ray West behind the boards cre­at­ing sparse, atmo­spher­ic, jazz-influ­enced pro­duc­tion the dis­tinct­ive voice of under­rated rap­per John Robin­son and D.I.T.C. legend A.G. sprinkle thought­ful lyr­ics on this short but sweet 7” EP.

Kon­cept Jack$on — The Tale Of The Mutant Root (Self-Released)

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The Mutant Academy mem­ber takes advant­age of his tal­en­ted in-house pro­duc­tion crew who bring lo-fi wavy beats to the table. Koncept’s deliv­ery is grimey and, at times, ener­get­ic which cre­ates a dis­tinct­ive sound that has become syn­onym­ous with the Mutant Academy crew.

Crime­apple & Big Ghost Ltd – Aguardi­en­te (Manteca Music)

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The New Jer­sey rap­per col­lab­or­ates with Big Ghost Ltd who com­ple­ments him per­fectly by deliv­er­ing well-craf­ted beats that are ideal for his razor-sharp rhymes.

August Greene – August Greene (August Greene LLC)

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A three-man group, fron­ted by legendary rap­per Com­mon and pro­du­cers Robert Glasper and Kar­riem Rig­gins, release an elev­en-track pro­ject. It’s is a mature, dig­ni­fied release that fur­ther adds to the diversity of the Chica­go veteran’s clas­sic cata­logue. It lacks the intense soul of his best work but is well worth a listen for long-time fans that have missed his pres­ence in music over the last year.

Zion I & DJ Fresh – The Ton­ite Show (Fresh in the Flesh / Mind Over Mat­ter)

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The Oak­land duo col­lab­or­ate with DJ Fresh who has a long-stand­ing his­tory of pro­jects with Bay Area artists. Zion I are known for hav­ing an assor­ted range of dif­fer­ent styles and this ten-track release fuses mel­low, spir­itu­al tracks with con­trast­ing high-energy vibrancy sprinkled in between.

Sean Price & Illa Ghee — Metal Detect­ors EP (Ruck Down Records / Duck Down Music Inc.)

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The untimely passing of Sean Price in 2015 is still raw and although this posthum­ous release, a col­lab­or­a­tion with NY rap­per Illa Ghee, is not a patch on the great mater­i­al that made him an under­ground legend it’s still nice to once again hear his blunt deliv­ery, humor­ous bars and fam­ous adlibs.

Al Divino & Estee Nack — Raf­aga Facil / Mal­e­fi­cis Arti­bus (Self-Released)

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The Mas­sachu­setts duo col­lab­or­ate on a pair of EPs (there is a third entitled D E S T I N Y if you can afford it) and deliv­er raw, obser­v­ant rhymes over dusty boom-bap pro­duc­tion.

Czar­face & MF DOOM — Czar­face Meets Metal Face (Sil­ver Age)

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7L & Eso­ter­ic and Wu-Tang rap­per Inspec­tah Deck release their latest pro­ject under the Czar­face pseud­onym with a high-pro­file guest join­ing the ride. New MF DOOM mater­i­al is always wel­come for any hip-hop fan but this album feels a bit cluttered and lack­ing in dir­ec­tion to be the huge suc­cess that it looked like it could have been on paper. Nev­er­the­less the names involved in this pro­ject mean that it’s deserving of being given a listen.

Apathy – The Widow’s Son (Dirty Ver­sion LLC)

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The Con­necti­c­ut and Army of the Pharaohs rap­per pulls togeth­er some high-pro­file pro­du­cers and guest emcees on his latest album. The likes of DJ Premi­er, Pete Rock, Buck­wild and Phar­oahe Monch all con­trib­ute and although Apathy holds his own it is ulti­mately a pro­ject that lacks the inspir­a­tion which will gain it repeat spins.

 

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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.