Ransom & Big Ghost Ltd. – “Heavy is the Head” (Album Review)

This is the 5th full-length album from Jersey City emcee Ransom. Coming up as 1/2 of the short-lived duo A-Team alongside Hitchcock, he branched out on his own following their disbandment beginning with his 2008 full-length debut Street Cinema & the Statik Selektah-produced sophomore album The Proposal. But it’s safe to say 2020 was his biggest year yet so far, dropping a total of 5 EPs produced entirely by Nicholas Craven & all of them being equally stellar. Then the dude dropped 7 last month, which is a well executed concept EP based around the 7 deadly sins. However, all of this has been leading up to Heavy is the Head produced by Big Ghost Ltd. from start to finish.

“Lord Stark” starts off the album with a 1 minute skit & then Ransom jumping over some heavy synths to see who can propel higher than him whereas “All the Kings Men” is pretty much Mickey Factz & J. Arrr tagging along to leave a piano instrumental scarred up like they said they would at the end of the first verse. “Ransom the Destroyer” works in a Viking-esque beat to proclaim himself as such just before RJ Payne assists him for the symphonic battle rap cut “The Red Wedding”.

After the “King’s Intermission” interlude, “Tyranny” is a heartbreaking portrayal of how people are cold blooded while “Blackwater” is a rock-tinged barfest appetizing heads for his upcoming collab album with Rome Streetz. The penultimate song “Off With His Head” with the Heavy Metal Kings & Lou from Paradise is basically the quartet quenching for blood over a dusty instrumental & after the “King’s Landing” interlude, the closer “A King’s Ransom” has these haunting choir vocals throughout & it’s about how a fortune is granted to whoever hands him a traitor.

I’ve been listening to this dude for almost a decade now & I gotta say: Heavy is the Head is the best body of work that Ransom has attached his name to yet & one of the best things you’ll hear in 2021. Dude’s in his prime lyrically & Big Ghost’s production is epic as fuck! God can only imagine how his next album with Pete Rock will sound.

Score: 9/10

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Zion I ,Deuce Eclipse and DJ Vinroc bring us “Back To Life” [video]

Veteran Oakland, CA emcee Zion I  shares the visuals for his new single “Back To Life” which sees him working with Deuce Eclipse and DJ Vinroc. The track is an uplifting gem that aims to usher us into a new life as we slowly move away from the global pandemic. Bolstered by a rousing cinematic backdrop courtesy of DJ Vinroc, Zion I and Deuce Eclipse go to work on the mind with their evocative lyrics and smooth cadences.

The visual is engaging as well and makes extensive use of performance shots and smooth-cut scenes to capture the rapper’s raw energy.

“Back To Life” comes on the heels of Zion’s previous single “2 Eyes”

Get “Back To Life” on Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify

 

Keep up with  Zion I  | Soundcloud: Facebook: Twitter: Spotify: Instagram

Law’s spirit “Can’t Die”

Austrian emcee Law makes his entry on our site with this uplifting track titled “Can’t Die.” A mid-tempo track that details the tenacity of the human spirit and the need to believe in oneself at all times. The production here is horn-driven and is punchy to a degree but well-crafted to fit Law’s evocative lyrics and smooth flow.

Get “Can’t Die” on SoundCloud,

Keep up with Law | Soundcloud:  Instagram

ATM King pours his heart out on “No Air”

ATM king is back with a new release titled “No Air” that displays his smooth melodic raps and knack for penning relatable lyrics that everyone can latch on to. Over the somber piano-laden trap backdrop, the rapper reflects on his struggles and all the things he had to do to overcome them to become a better person.

 

Keep up with ATM King   | Spotify: Twitter: Instagram

BACAO RHYTHM & STEEL BAND: Expansions

Rating: ★★★★★ We all heard Expansions, the third LP from steel drum funkers Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band was on the way, right? And not just heard about it either but checked previews of some tracks and got a single-length taster in the form of recent 45 Dirt Off Your Shoulder with I Need Somebody To Love on the flip. A full preview was tightly under wraps though, even when it came to the PR.  Mind you, there must have been a bit of pressure and expectation given the excellence of 55 and The Serpent’s Mouth, so frankly, I’m not surprised Björn Wagner’s ‘other’ lot (he’s also The Mighty Mocambos’ big cheese as well) kept the full monty unaired until release date. They’ve previously filtered funk, disco, reggae and hip-hop through a steel pan-drenched instrumental prism and mixed up excellent covers with equally dope originals but the big question was ‘What approach would they take for this one?’  Would it be heavier on  original compositions?  If they did covers, what would they be?  Would they consider adding vocals to the mix?  I don’t know about you but I think with all these concerns, it might be time for a track-by-track breakdown.  Let’s have a gander at what they’ve done…

1. TOUGH VICTORY
Tough gig – what to open your third LP with when a scene’s eyes and ears are straining in your direction? Go balls out with an original composition? Why not? So here’s this sweaty tropical chugger with Latin guitar stylings.

2. SPACE
Woo-hah! No one but Bacao would have the Galt (see what I did there?) or skill to pull this off, and so here this is…

3. RAISE IT UP
…which frees them up to go Slum-ing it Dilla cows come home on the next one.  Yes! He’s on fire and so are Bacao.

4. MY JAMAICAN DUB
So it’s only right to switch things up for a Grace Jones cover in which the original’s new wave-y/ disco gets switched up for fluid dub-funky shenanigans that’ll have you living your life as a slave to the rhythm.

5. I NEED SOMEBODY TO LOVE TONIGHT
Don’t we all? But this 55 gallon slab of slo-mo disco should reel ’em in.

6. DIRT OFF YOUR SHOULDER
Quite right. Stand up for ya bad self as organic drums replace programmed ones and pans replace synths.

7. GETTING NASTY
Bacao obviously didn’t get the message that the second half of many LPs shows a marked drop in quality as they school you with a concrete lesson on how to tropically cover Ike and Tina…

8. BLOW YOUR COVER
…and then reveal that they have every intention of making the entire second half better than the first with urgent steel funk…

9. REPRESENT
…a glorious, minimal nugget that RZA will lap up…

10. THE HEALER
..and something I’m sure both Erykah and Dilla would lap up.

11. LES FLEURS
Alright, they’re just taking the piss now. Will I get in ‘Pseud’s Corner’ in Private Eye if I describe this Minnie Riperton cover as sublime? I honestly don’t care. Because it is sublime.

12. SQUARING THE CIRCLES
Consider this circle fully squared!

COMMENTS: I’m starting to think it’s all bollocks about third albums being difficult and if making this was, the results more than make up for the effort with an especially strong second half . Another triumphant Bacao bomb – and if they never make another record, their legend is assured.

BEST TRACKS: Getting Nasty, Blow Your Cover, Represent, Les Fleurs, Squaring The Circles
(Out now on Big Crown Records)

Emilya reflects on life on “Emotionally Bankrupt”

Rising singer-songwriter Emilya caught our ears with her new single “Emotionally Bankrupt” which dives into the delicate issue of depression and anxiety in this day and age.

Bolstered by a solemn piano-laden and moody backdrop, Emilya delivers a heartfelt and sublime vocal performance that grips the listener with its emotive tone and evocative lyrics. Although the premise is dark, she flips the script by giving strength to those going through it with her encouraging words and implores listeners to never give in to the doldrums but push on to rise above it all.

Emilya is a Dallas, Texas-based singer/songwriter. She is a classically trained pianist who also plays the guitar. She started her music career a few years ago and has a couple of singles to her name.

Get “Emotionally Bankrupt” on all DSPs here.

Keep up with Emilya | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter | Website

SHOTTIE and TeV95 show “Pure Gratitude” [video]

Miami emcee/director Shottie shows his penchant for crafting hard-hitting gems on his latest effort titled “Pure Gratitude.” The track sees him working with long-time collaborator TeV95 (95Labs) who laces him with a cinematic and somewhat exotic backdrop. The track is pure bravado on wax as Shottie proceeds to knock the opposition off while counting his numerous achievements as he climbs higher in the entertainment space. The visual is directed by Shottie himself who takes viewers into his creative space with his squad as they take time out to chill from the daily hustle and bustle.

Besides making music, Shottie is a scriptwriter and film director, and “Pure Gratitude” is the lead single from his upcoming MOSKVITCH series, which serves as his long-awaited return to the rap game.

 

Get “Pure Gratitude” on Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify

 

Keep up with Shottie |  Instagram

VERSEatyle and Antonia Marquee get “Souled Away”

Emerging San Diego, CA-based hiphop artist VERSEatyle shares his new release “Souled Away.” The track is an r&b infused hiphop cut ripe with smooth textures and head-nodding drum grooves that merge perfectly with the rapper’s laidback flow. He is also joined by vocalist Antonia Marquee who delivers a heartfelt and melodic hook on the chorus section.

 

Get “Souled Away” on Apple Music, YouTube, Deezer

Keep up with VERSEatyle | TikTok: Facebook : Twitter : Instagram : Bandcamp