Breathe, One and then a two, two – Two and then a three, three – Three and then a four, four – Then you gotta breathe, oh…. It’s April which means it’s been four months (half of them spent locked down with nothing to do BUT listen to flames!!!) of inferno style fire in the hip hop world, and like we always do about this time, we get to recapping the best of the best, hottest of hot. So open whatever streaming service you use, or even better, open Bandcamp or wherever you can purchase these albums and support the artists – and get to jotting.
Stu Bangas & Blacastan – Watson & Holmes 3: The Case of the BPM Killer
As Stu Bangas alluded to in our interview with the man recently, there is plenty of material at the ready for release – and this includes the new audio adventure of Watson & Holmes. It should come as no surprise that it’s another fantastic offering albeit a little short, but there isn’t a wasted second. Crumpets is dope, 23 x 1 is a deep tune (and video) and the soundtrack is like a dark mystery movie. One of the best ways to spend half an hour.
Raz Fresco – Magneto Was Right Issue #2
Issue #3 has also been released this month and without doing a separate breakdwon for all, it would have been great if these three releases in 2020 were all one album. There are some really good tracks and some really not-so-good filler which automatically takes away from each of the installments. Issue #2 is ok, highs and lows (same as #3) so just pick the eyes out of them and keep moving.
Nite Owl – Water Cooler Talk
You may remember the name from the ‘Beneath The Surface’ feature we did on the St Louis spitter a month or so ago, and while this release dropped just at the end of March, we don’t review albums without a solid listen, so it makes the April installment. And it’s five tracks of fire – Nite Owl is just so comfortable with mic in hand, that what comes out is real, honest and captivating – all over brilliant beat choice. It’s a winner.
JK1 The Supernova – The Divine Hand (Winter’s Coming)
You may remember JK1 The Supernova from an earlier installment of this monthly series as he dropped ‘Kill Yourselfie the EP Vol.1’ but he’s back with another 4 tracks that show you he isn’t playing around on the mic. The 8 track EP (4 instrumentals) provides just enough to keep us wanting more from JK1 and hopefully we’ll get a full length release soon!
Killarmy – Full Metal Jackets
While it’s Killarmy by name, it’s really a watered down version of the crew that brought us the epic Dirty Weaponry. With Killa Sin incarcerated and no Dom Pachino, they are arguably missing the two stars – however you always can rely on 9th Prince to hit you with the goodness. There are some really nice features from quality emcees like Cappadonna, Planet Asia, Ras Kass, Killah Priest, Masta Ace and others but in the end it just lacks the overall brilliance of their earlier material. For Wu and Wu-affiliate fans, it’s still a very worthwhile listen.
Waterr (x Flu)- Master of the Art
The gruff delivery and flow is iconic and much like a Nine-lite. And I love me some Nine. This release is full of headshots! Dope drums, the snap of the hi-hats, funky but subtle basslines and quality, honest spitting over it all. And I love his basketball references. Waterr sits in his lane which he has mastered as he delivers another release that you can play from start to finish and then spin it again.
Mad Squablz – Art of Boom Bap II
At the essence of this album, is hip hop in its realest and rawest form – dope beats, sick emcees all put together to get the best out of both without the bells and whistles that can sometimes hinder the direction of a release. In this case, it’s the simplicity that makes this release such an easy yet engaging listen. Squablz edgy delivery just works over authentic boom bap.
Smoke DZA – Worldwide Smoke Session
What a fun little mixtape that dropped in honour of weed smokers everywhere! It’s light hearted smoke music, something you can put on in the background while you blaze one with the homies. The album sounds like it was recorded like this too with a number of featured emcees sharing the mic with Smoke DZA. Not something that will be high on the AOTY list, but far from gimmicky either. Sit back, roll one and put it on.
Jungle Brothers – Keep It Jungle
Funky flavour, nice rhymes over classic, timeless boom bap production. The Jungle Brothers transport the late 1990’s sound into 2020 effortlessly with 10 tracks of quality hip hop music. It’s light, fun, upbeat and has you nodding your head for over half an hour. In this day and age, you can’t ask for much more! They stay in their pocket and deliver their best work since Raw Deluxe. Welcome back brothers!
SAVAGELAND (Weapon E.S.P x Reckonize Real x Ghost Of The Machine) – SAVAGELAND
There isn’t much that hasn’t been said about this release through my full review of the album or through our interview with Weapon E.S.P before the album dropped, but we CAN safely say that is BANGS. It’s high energy, high quality, authentic boom bap with two skilled lyricists trading friendly fire. Cop it.
Awon & BluntOne – ANTITHESIS Vol.1 Pt 3
Man, this is a nice little low key joint that just flows as well as anything released this year. It’s very chilled and understated but the rhymes are on point and it’s a really down to earth and nuanced release. It’s not long enough, but it is part of a bigger project so it’s forgivable. Find the time to give it a play.
The Four Owls – Nocturnal Instinct
It’s been a handful of years since we last heard from the four UK emcees, but this album has ensured it was worth the wait. The Four Owls are back with a fantastic boom bap style album chock full of dope rhymes and fantastic features. They’ve enlisted guys like Kool G Rap, DJ Premier, Roc Marciano and my favourite feature Masta Killa where the five emcees just got at it over a vibrant track. In all it’s a fun, uplifting album of the highest quality and well worth more than a few spins.
Raw Poetic & Damu the Fudgemunk
Funky hip hop, solid beats and scratches, coupled with that gritty underground sound, funk samples – awww yeah. This is that REAL hip hop that makes heads zone out and bop away. Once again, the only gripe with it, is length but you can’t really complain because every minute is an experience. Like the first time you heard Gang Starr. Cop it and play it on repeat – a lot.
The Doppelgangaz – G Pack, Vol. 2
20 minutes of new Doppelgangaz music? Yes please. While it’s never enough, I’ve been a fan of these guys for more than a minute so anything they drop, I’m gonna cop and while this is only essentially 5 tracks, they’re fire. Dusty boom bap with solid lyrics and vibe.
Cas Metah & Blast Mega – Pow Bundy
Ahh the cover / name brings back some funny memories, as does some of the skits & content held within the album, but don’t let that take away from the fact there is some first class, high quality, boom bap hip hop here. A lot of varied content lyrically that keeps the album moving and you listening for the next dope line. Indulge yourself.
R.A the Rugged Man – All My Heroes Are Dead
I was really excited for this and it didn’t disappoint. After five full spins, I reviewed the album in full and that can be found HERE. There isn’t much else to add other than it has to be revered as a classic album. Some of the content may not be for you, but the style switch ups, the beat changes, the flow AND the lyrical content – it’s all top tier. Even the features are out of this world. Dope A.F.
Westside Gunn – Pray For Paris
Is this my kind of hip hop? Not really no, BUT we keep it real, and there will be some hip hop heads who don’t mind the Griselda movement and WSG is the reason we even know any of these guys, so he gets props. Keeping it real though, it’s probably his best release, the production is solid and although his voice is an acquired taste and his material relatively narrow, it’s decent with nice features.
Tech N9ne – EnterFear
Tech N9ne certainly has quite a discography but he really is a polarising taste. Some care for his music while others will give it a wide berth. The good news for those who mess around with Tech is that this joint is a very solid upgrade on his previous effort. The lyrical content is there, you’ve got some Strange Music features too and overall it’s a robust album if his dark / metal / rap style is your thing.
Elcamino x 38 Spesh – The Minotaur
For mine, Elcamino is one of the most consistent, top tier emcees out right now and this project, whether you call it The Minotaur or ‘Money for Bail’, it’s yet another high quality offering. 38 Spesh just can’t miss right now with his production, and with Elcamino riding shotgun over them, it just means first class hip hop joints for the fans.
Skyzoo & Dumbo Station – The Bluest Note
As the name of the album and cover art imply, this is a soulful, jazzy blues style of joint with Skyzoo rhyming in his top tier ways for half a dozen easy to digest tracks. It’s a brilliant little teaser that sets the scene for more jazz / rap collaborations in the not so distant future.
Quelle Chris & Chris Keys – Innocent Country 2
Continuing the jazzy vibe, the laid back, almost TOO cruisey release from Quelle Chris & Chris Keys hits the headphones this month. The abstract, ethereal artist spits mature lyrics and rhymes effortlessly over refreshing and low-key production. It feels good to mellow out to this one.
April, while not quite the highest point of 2020 thus far, may have yet given us the Album of the Year with R.A and a the very least, was another quality month of real hip hop music in the underground.