A high-quality month full of notable releases in the US independent and mainstream scenes…
eLZhi & Khrysis are Jericho Jackson — Jericho Jackson (Jamla Records)
Razor sharp multi-syllabic lyricism and powerful imagery from the ever-reliable eLZhi and sparse, dusty production from Khrysis to get heads nodding. This is a top quality release from a duo who stay criminally underrated in their respective lanes.
Roc Marciano – RR2: The Bitter Dose (Marci Enterprises LLC.)
An outstanding follow-up to the first volume released in 2017, this is another example of the intricate brilliance that Roc Marciano always manages to deliver. For all its simplicity this is still a densely layered project with plenty of subtleties and his usual nonchalant rhyme delivery which is executed to near-perfection.
Skyzoo — In Celebration Of Us (First Generation Rich / EMPIRE)
A mature and socially-conscious project which sees Skyzoo deliver yet another standout lyrical performance. He has not only the swagger of many of NY’s great emcees but also the thoughtfulness and clarity to create humble music over well-selected, cohesive but varied production.
Curren$y — The Spring Collection (Jet Life Recordings)
Hazy, laid-back, weed-inspired raps feature throughout on this no frills release, as Spitta stays within his finely carved lane and feeds his loyal fan base yet another free release. Very few artists succeed by remaining in such a claustrophobic niche but Curren$y has the beat-selection and ideal delivery to make it an undeniable strength.
Black Milk – FEVER (Mass Appeal Records / Computer Ugly)
Black Milk has continually evolved as both a producer and rapper and his latest release is amongst his most experimental work. Drawing on live instrumentation and fusing it with electronic, soul and psychedelic samples this is a diverse and interesting listen.
38 Spesh & Benny — Stabbed & Shot (T.C.F. Music Group)
Benny is currently one of NY’s hottest properties and his latest project, a collaboration with fellow NY native 38 Spesh, once again showcases his penchant for concise, sharply delivered rhymes that will evoke memories of the mid-2000’s East Coast mixtape scene.
Willie The Kid & Klever Skemes – Gold Rush EP (Romanic)
A short 5‑track EP which adds to Willie The Kid’s impressive run of recent releases. His wordplay is as strong as ever and the production provides the perfect backdrop to his charismatic delivery.
Mach-Hommy — Bulletproof Luh (Bad Taste)
Released on Valentine’s Day the ever-mysterious Mach-Hommy delivers another impressive release delivered in his thoroughly unique style. He’s meticulous and calculating throughout, weaving his rhymes through the soulful production which is ideal for his monotone delivery.
O.C. – A New Dawn (2nd Phase) (DITC Studios)
The legendary D.I.T.C. rapper’s consistency has been one of his most appealing traits throughout his near-25-year career and his newest album, while not as potent as some his more iconic work, is still driven by solid boom-bap production and dense lyrical imagery. It serves as another reminder of why he is one of hip-hop’s greatest talents.
Various Artists — Black Panther (The Album) (Top Dawg Ent. / Aftermath / Interscope Records)
The highly-anticipated movie is accompanied by an impressive soundtrack, curated by Kendrick Lamar who enlists a who’s who of TDE and TDE-affiliated artists and some of the most high-profile names in hip-hop. The contributing artists are able to create an intensity and energy which captures the mood of the movie perfectly.
Nipsey Hussle — Victory Lap (All Money In No Money Out / Atlantic Recording Corporation)
Nipsey Hussle is now veteran-status but it feels as if his discography, largely consisting of mixtapes and loose tracks, has been building towards the much-anticipated Victory Lap. The street-heavy narratives sound ideal over classic West Coast production and he delivers the album his fans always believed he could.
Cozz – Effected (A Tha Committee / Dreamville / Interscope Release)
Another notable West Coast release from the South Central LA artist who is signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville label. On his third album he still brings excellent technical rapping skills to the table but offers a little bit more depth to his lyricism which enables him to define his own style.
Stalley - Tell the Truth Shame the Devil, Vol. 2 (Blue Collar Gang)
Ohio rapper Stalley, formerly signed to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group, has recently gone independent and this is the second part of a trilogy of EPs. Stalley occupies a strange space in the hip-hop world. He seemed too thoughtful and introspective for the mainstream but yet on this EP his bullish delivery over trap-inspired production would suggest otherwise.
Exile — Baker’s Dozen (Fat Beats Records)
Exile’s soulful, laid-back production has provided some defining moments in music. This 13-track instrumental project sees him stick to the basics that made him such a popular producer. It’s upbeat, at times it’s funky, and it’s always soulful. Exile flips a nice mix of samples for a fresh-sounding, easy to listen to project.
Kankick — Warped Dis Strict Project Vol. 1 (No Label)
15-track instrumental project from the Oxnard native who flips carefully selected jazzy and soulful loops over down-tempo, minimalistic drums and draws on random sound effects and vocal samples to keep it varied and distinctive.
Mick Jenkins – Or More… The Frustration (Free Nation)
The Chi-Town rapper has bubbled on the brink of critical acclaim for the last few years but has so far remained under the radar. The inconsistencies in his latest release can be attributed to this forming part of a series capturing ideas and concepts that are currently inspiring his new album. If the album captures the best moments on this EP then it should be a quality release.
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