“Five elements, vocal instruments super extra strength hip-hop activist
Five for your mind no time and intertwine
Roll with the rhymes sunset to sunrise
Five you should know, when we flow, you get what you looking for
Five terrorize ya enterprise
’cause we don’t shoot until we see the whites of ya eyes” – Jurassic 5 ‘Monkey Bars’

We’re into Montho Number Five – and from the OPENING DAY, there were some hot as hell releases from the likes of Ka, Rasheed Chappell & 38 Spesh and plenty more. And the month has only gotten better – check out what we found to be dope enough to include in the Raw Side monthly recap.


Rasheed Chappell x 38 Spesh – Ways & Means

I’ve said it before, but 38 Spesh just doesn’t miss and he hasn’t again here on this joint with Rasheed Chappell. In their own right, but are top shelf at what they do, but put them together and it hits all the right notes. Spesh provides a savvy sonic background for Sheed to just flow over, which he does effortlessly. It’s a banger.


Ka – Descendants of Cain

Funny that such a low-key personality and emcee, creates SUCH a hype around a release without doing much at all. This is Ka in a nutshell. EVERYONE is checking for him, all the time, and then bang – out comes another classic album from one of the games best lyricists. His seventh album has a biblical feel to it (from title to song names to album art) and it’s an atmospheric and mature hip hop offering. Multiple spins required to fully appreciate it and it’s an acquired taste, but it’s a low-key classic.


Roccwell – Still Lovin’ Boom Bap

What a fantastic old-school boom bap album that doesn’t sound nostalgic, but instead pays homage to that iconic 80’s and 90’s street sound while keeping a modern edge. Really well put together album from start to finish and the communal nature of having a host of high quality emcees bringing the real lyrics over the top of such solid production is a flawless victory. Great album and has huge re-playability factor!


Jarren Benton – The Mink Coat Killa (The Lost 4)

Normally I wouldn’t include something as short as this, but it serves as a bit of an expansion pack, plus all four tracks BANG so it was worth throwing it in the mix. Make sure you don’t overlook it.


Casual – Big Head Science

It’s been a long minute since we’ve heard from co-founder of the alternative rap group Heiroglyphics but he is back with ‘Big Head Science‘ and he’s as relevant now as he was when he dropped the flaming hot ‘Fear Itself‘ over 25 years ago! It’s fresh, funky and Casual can still flow. We get varied production which gives the listener a well-rounded experience.


LEX Nyre – #FUHGGED

This is TOUGH! I’m biased to that boom bap, street bully rap and Lex has come through and delivered exactly what I crave – drums, tight production and lyrics that can rip your face off. It’s a fantastic little gem of an album and something that should be given multiple spins at high volume.


Novatore – Embrace the Darkness

Dropped right at the end of April, it makes the May edition. Novatore drops another album, produced by C-Lance, and the result is some hard hitting, tough spitting bars. As far as music in the modern era goes, 10 tracks, 30 mins, no filler – you can’t ask for much more than that!


Jamo Gang – Walking With Lions

Hard to gush anymore about this release than I have since the joint dropped mid May. It warranted a FULL REVIEW and there isn’t much I can say that wasn’t already covered. It’s an epic hip hop record. Mature, meaningful and dope as all hell. It’s Jamo.


Bishop Neru – Neruvia: My Disregarded Thoughts

This is a solid outing and a decent if not ‘spotty’ listen. There are some brilliant moments and ‘Too Lost’ is not only the dopest track on this joint, but one of the better boom bap style tracks in 2020. Produced by the legendary DJ Premier who just doesn’t miss – this is Neru at his best. However, there are too few moments like THIS, and more missteps as Bish tries to be a little too crafty and eclectic in his production and flow. Worth a spin to take some gems away from it.


Illa Ghee – Jesus & Better Drugs

The grimy voiced, rap veteran is back with his hardcore lyricism, street tales and that gritty, New York sound that makes him a must-listen. Ever since he hit the scene as a feature on the Mobb Deep joint, he’s been one to listen for and never misses the mark. This is another release that stays true to his style, but is still well suited and relevant in a modern playlist. ‘Real One‘ is a standout and takes me back to that Illmatic vibe.


Conway the Machine – No One Mourns The Wicked

I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t overly keen to bump this after a lukewarm reception to LuLu I felt like perhaps I’ve heard all I need to from The Machine, even without his Shady Records debut. However, on this release he teams up with Big Ghost Ltd and I must say, while there are still irksome elements of the album (the mouth gun, the semi-minimalist production) it’s a step in the right direction to just move out of the tired old Daringer produced pocket. It’s actually a nice return to form.


Justo the MC & Maticulous – County Of Kings

Lyrics still matter and Justo the MC brings them every time he steps up to the mic. His latest release with Maticulous is no exception as he rides the smooth production to create a handful of memorable moments. It’s a great ‘conscious’ effort that has you smoothly nodding the head to quality hip hop.


Starvin B – Melting Pot

This is so damn hot it’ll melt your headphones. This half hour epic is chock full of boom bap, East Coast inspired hip hop that will make you wanna go and play the street corner. The beauty about Starvin B is that he very rarely misses the mark and hasn’t here either. It’s a brilliant release – check out the FULL REVIEW here.


E-Fluent x Reckonize Real – Broken Kings

Have I raved enough about Reckonize Real this year? Dude is at the apex of his game, from Audio Murals with Mayhem of EMS, Savageland with Weapon E.S.P & Ghost Of The Machine and now this joint. His production is flawless, varied, crafty and on point and Broken King’s is no exception.
E-Fluent owns the mic here too, and together they deliver a brilliant album.


Eto – The Beauty Of It

Wow. Having heard the single with Vinnie Paz and others, it was a fantastic start, but even I was surprised at just how epic and consistent this release is. Eto is on point with this album and he flexes his penmanship over compelling production. The result is a flat out banger and something that will be getting a number of rotations throughout the year.


Hus KingPin – Gunpowder

Hus KingPin has taken over for me as the ‘go-to’ guy with that laidback, minimalist flow after Roc Marciano held that title for a long while. Hus is a fantastic street narrator and the way he builds an album works for him and the listener. This is another standout effort if you’re a fan of this style of hip hop. Worth giving it a chance or two to see what’s up.


Checkmait x Mark Deez – The Ascended Masters

Overall this is a really solid album. There are some fantastic boom bap beats and killer emcees dropping some fire verses over the top – features from Sean Price, Tragedy Khadafi, Apathy, Reef the Lost Cause and others really add the spice when they rip the mic. However, there are just too many ‘dead pockets’ in the album where the beat doesn’t hit or the hook is just too wack or commercial. It’s decent, you’ll grab some tracks for the playlist though, but as a complete project – could have had some filler trimmed to make more of an impact.


Knowledge the Pirate – Family Jewels

Knowledge the Pirate just continues to deliver quality albums. On the back of Black Cesar, we now get Family Jewels which revolves around the them of ‘Black Madonna’. The production was split between E.LE.M.N.T. & Cuns however the release maintains cohesiveness which enables KtP to deliver his lyrical street poems at a really high level. This is a quality release.


Young RJ & Mega Ran – 2 Hands Up

It’s an unassuming release but it’s quality hip hop nonetheless. It has a great vibe, solid production and Young RJ always has those lyrics so you have the key elements to a good release. It will sit alongside other Roots-esque releases in your catalogue and is a nice change of pace from all the boom bap I’ve been bumping in 2020!!!


Ghost Of The Machine x DJ Proof – Heroes for Hire 3

Bars. And lots of them. Ghost of the Machine has already upped his pen game as a member of SAVAGELAND (if you haven’t caught that joint, check out our REVIEW and make sure you spin it) and now he gives us more quality lyricism on his Heroes For Hire 3 joint with DJ Proof. A great blend of funky flow, clever wordplay and solid soundscapes (and some funny skits to boot!)


The Opioid Era – The Throwaways

Killer album art as it depicts my life through mobile phones really, but when you have a dope album cover concept you need to bring the bars on the flipside. Luckily, The Opioid Era have never had this issue. Another banging release and just goes to show the quality of the music they produce if these are the ‘throwaways’.


ILLtemper – Scum Disease

Now, we know ILLTemper (much like G-Mo Skee and others) are an acquired taste and might not sit well with everyone. That’s cool, there have been SO MANY dope releases in 2020 – and this month in particular, that if this ain’t your thing – just keep moving! However, if the horrorcore style and dirty minded lyrics don’t dissuade you, then it’s an enjoyable ride!


Hanzo Bladez – Birds of Prey

Dark, deep, hard and bloody entertaining. This is an epic little project to be fair and much as the album cover suggests, and the intro delivers, The Crow is featured throughout this joint. Being one of my favourite movies of all time, along with the boom bap production that just doesn’t miss for a second, it’s one of my favourite releases of the year. You have to give this project its dues – it bangs hard and should be in constant rotation. There’s no excuse.


NEMS & ILL Bill – Gorilla Twins

After hitting us in the snotbox with a couple of BANGING singles and sick, motion picture cover art – Nems and ILL Bill give us their Gorilla Twins joint. And it doesn’t just hit the mark, it crushes it. But don’t take my word for it, read the full review I dropped HERE.


Styles P (David) – Ghost Your Enthusiam

Styles P is one of the best lyricists in the game and has a catalogue of albums that just work. He regularly creates different ways to portray his street tales and does so with flair and gritty delivery. If anything, for the first time in a LONG time, his production let’s him down ever so slightly on this joint. It’s not bad, there are only a couple of tracks that are just a little too cheesy, but it’s just a half-step behind where I usually pitch Ghost. Still, apart from the couple of skips, it’s still a damn solid release.


Pete Rock & Camp Lo – 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s 2

Yes this was originally a mixtape back half a dozen years ago, but that release is vastly different to this one! For starters, the error in the original was that it had too much filler, went for way too long and lost consistency. This time around, those issuers are nowhere to be found as the fat has been cut to leave the meat – and it sounds as dope now as it did then and as Pete Rock has since forever. Sure, having heard some of the songs and verses before does suck, but it’s a much better release.


Napoleon Da Legend – Chikara

Bars – it’s what Napoleon Da Legend gives you and Chikara once again shows the emcee deliver verbal ferocity. Nap always SAYS something and you just can’t help but be engaged with him, and this joint is exactly the same. Nice production too as it varies from some eerie, mystical kind of noise to the standard boom bap. Calculated with Sicknature is a highlight.


Freddie Gibbs x The Alchemist – Alfredo

A delightful end of month addition from Freddie Gibbs and Alc that had flown under the radar and all of a sudden, the track ‘1985’ hit and not long after, the full joint was streaming. Four features on this album – Rick Ross, Conway the Machine, Benny the Butcher and Tyler, but you don’t need any more when you have the ever-commanding mic presence of Gibbs. It’s not your run of the mill hip hop record, but Gibbs lives outside that standard.


Joell Ortiz & KXNG Crooked – H.A.R.D

Pardon the pun, but it’s HARD to not look at this as a ‘half of Slaughterhouse’ album because that is exactly what it is, but more importantly it’s two high caliber emcees, with great chemistry, just spitting bars. This is clearly a ‘passion project’ because both emcees literally put everything into each verse they spit. While just 8 tracks & 25 mins it’s epic and we’ve got this on repeat right now.

Now…. this will also be the last time we drop a piece like this – instead we will do more frequent reviews and then put all those links in an article at the end of the month. With so much dope music, you can’t be waiting until the end of the month or you’ll be playing catch up for the rest of the year!!!

So, there we have it – another month chock full of quality hip hop from some incredible artists. IS your Album of the Year in this lot? Make sure you check out the official Raw Side Hip Hop Facebook Page.

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!