SO, for those who have been following Raw Side Hip Hop and know that we do our best to bring you the best REAL hip hop content around, you KNOW we take our reviews seriously. But, we also know that plenty of other hip hop heads out there have great taste, opinions and a lot of value to add. Now, we’ve decided to trial something called a ‘Roundtable Review’ which is where we get other writers / bloggers / fans engaged in the process of reviewing and sharing thoughts.

We asked around and got a couple of people lined up for the pilot version of it and you can check it all out below. Remember, if you’re keen to be part of this moving forward, hit us up in the comments or DM the page so we know!

About the reviewers:
Brutus Maximus
– hip hop fiend for 30 years and one half of the dynamic duo that IS Raw Side Hip Hop!

Tommy Tracczz – underground emcee from New York. Has dropped a number of dope projects and was the inaugural ‘Beneath the Surface’ feature emcee on Raw Side Hip Hop!

Fhaez – long time hip hop tragic who has dabbled in most elements of the culture

Trav He – lover of hip hop. Varied taste and always willing to engage with anything at least once. Partial to funky, experimental hip hop.

Desiree Sommerville – hip hop head from Philly. Traveled and rapped for various Philly DJ’s. Also one of the inaugural ‘top fans’ of Raw Side Hip Hop!

About the Album:
The 6 track (and 6 instrumental) album dropped a few weeks back at the start of July. The Starting 5ive (The Good People – Saint & Emskee, Carta P, Horror City, Quentin Gilmore) have put together a really solid joint, with some real old school vibes and quality lyrical content.

Track by Track Review:

BM: Soulful joint really. The beat is mellow, the instruments really set it off and then you have introspective, conversational style lyrical flow. It’s got a nice message and it’s a fresh track.

TT: Definitely funky vibe. Inspiring message. I love how they flow in Unison. I could see this joint playing at BBQ’s.

F: Smooth jazzy vibes MC’s seem to match up well with no-one standing out from the others.

TH: funky little harmony in the background, creates a real deep low tone which helps tell a nice story. I love the pitch into the deep verse rapper through a soulful chorus. Great track to set the expectations for the album.

DS: Hot and felt it, neck, head and shoulder action heard New York
Spike Lee type moviesOther favorite

New York Bars
BM: This is really funky. Solid horns over boom bap beats and you can’t help but nod your head to it and get lost in the vibe.

TT: Upbeat vibe. Very energetic and addictive. Definitely New York bounce. I found myself playing this song twice.

F: Lot more upbeat, enjoying the vibe of this beat, energy of the MC’s is lifted too, I would’ve started the album with this track

TH: funky upbeat track with a sweet jingle in the background as its special element. The female voice throughout sets it off. The perfect track to lower the head, raise the arm and just vibe. Favourite track…

DS: Didn’t hit with an umph or boombap. Represented New York ( Mt. Vernon) Points for that, no cigar.

Dim the Lights
BM: Once again, this track just flows. That iconic boom bap sound, wavy sonics and the flow which is reminiscent of Guru from Gang Starr. A classy track for the ladies to get you heading back to the crib.

TT: Another energetic joint. Boom Bap bounce. Definitely a Classy track. Ladies, y’all gonna want to rock with this.

F: Really dig the production on this, nice variation of samples.

TH: The electronic element in this track is legit. Sweet funky upbeat vibe. Ill give ya a hint…play this tune to the lady if she doesn’t go home with ya she ain’t worth it…

DS: Bars were smooth not hard. Excellent for a dating website or couples spot.

BM: For me that has an instant ‘Illmatic’ kind of feel to it. That NY street narrative style and a classic 90’s boom bap foundation. The chorus is reminiscent of ATCQ or J5. A funky and uplifting ‘anthem’.

TT: I agree, Definitely an ILLMATIC feel to it. Mixed with a REASONABLE DOUBT twist. I’m from NY, what else is there to say.

F: Nice horns throughout this track, Superstars best verse on the album.

TH: for mine too deep, too much of an attempt to mix its upbeat style to underground rap vibe. Has a funky beat though in there with a nice chorus. My least favourite track, but has a legit spot on this list. Plenty will love it.

DS: Hard and they delivered. One of the (2) liked more than the others actually bopping to it…moved me.

Somethings Happening
BM: That sax! What a way to kick off a track and add some funk to the upbeat, fun-filled vibing track. This is a ‘single’ worthy joint and would be loved by the radio as well as the streets.

TT: This Blues and Jazz, Boom Bap beat DEFINITELY kicks it off nice. The fun-filled, upbeat, definitely gets Everybody dancing.

F: More nice smooth jazzy undertones, DJ scratching is always a plus, other songs on this album definitely would’ve benefited by more DJ use.

TH: the brass element in this track is for real. Man oh man how good is that sax? Rad track with sweet story telling to go with it. Can see this song being the most popular and comfortably on my radio. As he said ‘I came here for something funky to happen’ you get that throughout this whole album.

DS: Nostalgic flow.

What You Really Heard
BM: The keys really set this one off for me. It’s still got that funk flavour, and the boom bap, but the piano just adds that extra element and keeps it so each track on the release has it’s own ‘personality’.

TT: I agree again, those keys Definitely sets it off. And that piano is official. Definitely a good way to end this Album. Even though, I feel like it just beginning.

F: Like the interplay between the horns and keys on this one.

TH: like every track here, each has that 1 element to separate it. The piano keys throughout just add a funky element and i live it. Nice lyrical story being told. Nice track…

DS: Opened up and immediately felt and heard the New York vibe. Spike Lee – Do The Right Thing and Put me in the mind of Tribe Called Quest.


Brutus Maximus – Overall, this is a really solid little collab. 6 joints, all really nice, funky vibes and the lyricists bring the darts which is important. Obviously, it’s short, and I’m cool with that. The only knock would be that there may not have been enough variation through all tracks for constant replay value. 7.5 / 10.

Tommy Tracczz – All and all, it is definitely an official piece of work. I give it 7.5 / 10 as well.

Fhaez: Full of jazzy undertones and a classic boombap backbone I found the production on this album to be the main highlight. All of the mc’s deliver however at times I found it hard telling any of them apart except from Superstar and more variance would’ve been appreciated. 7 / 10.

Trav He: my biggest hate towards hip hop in recent years is too often each track blends into the next and the artists aren’t experimenting like the old days. Same tone, same beat, virtually same lyrics. The Starting 5ive is exactly what I crave in music. 6 amazing tracks, all with their own unique twist to it. My only negative…where the hell is the other 6 tracks? I crave more, like now. Fantastic album. I will listen to this alot. Score – 8 / 10 solely and only because its only 6 tracks.

Desiree Sommerville: Instrumentals were actually in competition with the lyrics. Wutitis and Imadoit for the Win. Rap albums should have bangers and bars you remember not forget. Didn’t bring their own flavor, tasted it before with Spike and Tribe. 5 / 10.

So there you have it, our first Roundtable Review and we’ve seen pretty solid scores across the board, giving this joint from The Starting 5ive an average of 7 / 10. Make sure you give the album a spin and share your thoughts below or over at our socials. We’ll be checking for more peeps to do these in the future, so don’t sleep!

LIKE and FOLLOW us at Raw Side Hip Hop on Facebook or get at us on Twitter to keep the REAL hip hop discussion going! And remember, if, like Brandy, you wanna be down for the next one, hit us up!

About The Author

By Brutus Maximus

Founder of Raw Side Hip Hop. Been rocking with the hip hop culture for over 30 years. Love the creativity, authenticity of the art and the culture as a whole. Shout out to the real ones making and supporting true hip hip and the artists who make it!