Rigz & DJ Muggs – “Gold” (Album Review)

Rigz is a 30 year old MC from Rochester, New York who came up as a member of Da Cloth. He eventually broke out solo in 2017 off his debut EP Calculated & then the debut mixtape I Got Samples, which was followed up with a sequel tape & then his 2nd EP A Piece of the Action. However, Rigz’ popularity began to grow in 2019 off his Chup-produced 3rd mixtape Roach Gutta Slums & then the Big Ghost Ltd. produced collab effort with fellow Cloth member Mooch called The Only Way Out. Then he brought in Futurewave to produce his full-length debut Substance Abuse to universal acclaim & now after coming fresh off the sophomore effort Wake Ups that came out over the summer, DJ Muggs is coming in the picture to produce Rigz’ highly anticipated 3rd album.

After the “Gold Standard” intro, the title track with Mooch sets off the whole album by talking about how all they need is a brick over a morbid instrumental whereas “Every Season” with Rob Gates finds the pair on some spectral boom bap shit going at those who’re only tough in their heads. “Supreme” weaves in some keyboards & dusty drums talking about keeping 10 toes down just before Meyhem Lauren tags along for gritty drug dealer’s anthem “Cook Off”. Meanwhile on “What We Got”, we have Rigz on top of a beat kin to Wu-Tang Forever era RZA just giving the listeners who he is leading into the Rome Streetz-assisted “Heads on the Wall” talking about keeping their foots on cats’ necks on top of some luxurious piano chords & sputtering drums.

Mooch returns for the bare soul sample-laced “Where Ya Soul At?” speaking on turning the streets to their home, but then “Fool’s Gold” works in an enticing vocal loop going into battle rap territory. “24 Karats” goes back into drumless turf expressing his desire for a fortune while Big Twins comes into the picture for the forlorn “We Want In” talking about riding for their respective cliques.

The guitars on “Eastside Blues” are a nice change of pace sonically reminding that you can’t change where you came from & they carry their way over to “Crack the Code”, where Times Change jumps in to talk about how masterful they are. After the “Balance” interlude, the final “Never Met a Real Gangsta” with M.A.V. sees the 2 on top of some strings telling listeners all the G’s they know wound up not wanting be involved with crime anymore & then “The Culture” ends it with a spoken word piece.

It’s been a long time coming & I’m glad it finally came because this would be an excellent entry point for those who’re aren’t already familiar with Rigz or Da Cloth as a whole really. He continues to reveal himself as the sharpest lyricist of the crew even though I got love for all the members & Muggs’ production is as equally superb as Futurewave’s was on Substance Abuse a little over a year back.

Score: 9/10

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Dango Forlaine & DJ Swab – “Mazmanadium” (EP Review)

Dango Forlaine is a 26 year old MC from Detroit, Michigan who got his start in the summer of 2018 off his debut EP 95. He has since released 9 more EPs & a full-length debut but coming fresh off his stellar verse on Ty Farris’ latest magnum opus No Cosign Just Cocaine 4 a couple months back, he’s kicking off the new year by dropping his 10th EP & is bringing DJ Swab along to produce the entire thing.

The title track is a jazzy boom bap opener spitting that divine real whereas “The Ambassador” gets on some grimy hardcore shit. Ronnie Alpha tags along for the symphonic “Get It Up” talking about how they can’t slow down leading into the dramatic “25 Jefferson”, where A-Minus & Nappi Dev come into the picture to compare themselves to hustlers.

Meanwhile on “Blood Claat Ting”, we have Falcon Outlaw joining Dango on top of a guitar & some popping drums getting ready to go to war while the song “Night Owls” with Miskeen Haleem works in a crooning vocal sample going at those who think they’re better than them. The penultimate track “Crime of Passion” with John Jigg$ has a bluesy quality to it keeping the battle raps going & “In the Flesh” finishes it off in boom bap turf with a brief yet fiery verse that later transitions into some turntablism.

Now I’ve been following this guy for a little over a year now in thanks to my good friend/Middle Finger Music co-founder Pat Deegan & I definitely think Mazmanadium has to be one of my favorite projects that Dango has made so far. His pen-game’s continuing to sharpen up & DJ Swab’s production is great. However, I feel like the features are a little bit too much.

Score: 7/10

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Maez301 – “Hello, Goodbye.” (Album Review)

Maez301 is a 28 year old rapper from Gaithersburg, Maryland that first got his start in 2017 with his debut mixtape Nowhere. The project eventually caught the attention of Ervin Pope & Jerome Taylor, both of whom helped Maez get a record contract with Strange Music the following year & dropped his eponymous full-length debut showing Strange fans who he is artistically a little bit after his 26th born day. The sophomore effort HASAAN took a more personal tone to it & now that he’s home from the Strange New World Tour, Maez is keeping EP behind the boards for his 3rd album.

The title track has some gospel qualities to it telling listeners to be ready when he goes whereas “Let Up” with Tech N9ne is a west coast-tinged banger talking about never slowing down. “First Place” goes into cloudy, trap territory striving for victory & “Black” has to be one of the best songs of his career thus far detailing issues that’re very much relevant today on top of a bluesy instrumental.

Meanwhile on “Frenemies”, we have King Iso joining Maez on top of an acoustic guitar as well as a flute & some snares addressing trust issues leading into “Olsen Twins” serving as a romantically lush trap banger. After the “Different” interlude, “Fallen” is a downtrodden cut cussing out those who wanna see him fail just before “Inspire Me” tells his lover how much she means to him & the beat kinda reminds me of DJ Mustard for whatever reason.

Jehry Robinson tags along for the ethereal “Strange Flows” talking about hoes, but then “Slow Down” keeps the cloud rap vibes going by trying to steal a girl fed up with fuckboys. “Girlfriend” is a smooth dedication to his new sweetheart whereas “Lot on My Plate” has a bit of a cavernous feel to it venting about people hating him because he did it his way.

“Nun 2 Me” is a more spacious cut saying it ain’t shit to him while the song “What a Life” follows it up with a high-spirited bop about how blessed he is. The penultimate track “Ecstasy” psychedelically encourages listeners to live in the moment & “No Limit” rounds it all off has this sparkling quality to the beat talking about taking things as high as possible.

If you liked how Maez introduced the world to who he is artistically & personally on the last 2 albums as much as I did, then I HIGHLY encourage you to check this new one out as soon as you can because he really outdoes himself this time. I always appreciate when one tries to expand themselves artistically & that’s EXACTLY what he does with EP on here successfully.

Score: 8/10

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Richmond’s Very Own Sk33t Drops His New Project “Texaco Dreaming”

A reality rapper who specializes in story telling, Sk33t is an independent artist from the Southside of Richmond, Virginia. He has released a series of albums and mixtapes in his early career, but the most notable would be “Capital Murder”, which was released in 2021 leading up to the release of his current mixtape “Texaco Dreaming“. Sk33t is a versatile and lyrically proficient mc.

Sk33t strives to deliver heartfelt lyrics and edgy tunes to his fans, always keeping is music challenging, yet easy to relate to. It didn’t take long for Sk33t to create a buzz with his first mix-tapes and demos,catching the attention of the most influential  Djays in his city but the best is yet to come: His highly anticipated Mixtape “Texaco Dreamin” recently released, and it’s already generating quite a lot of buzz post mixtape drop.

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The Musalini & 9th Wonder – “The Don & Eye” (Album Review)

The Musalini is a 34 year old MC from New York City who’s been making noise in the underground since 2018 after dropping his debut mixtape Musalini Season. He would go on to release 3 full-lengths & 1 more tape before signing to TCF Music Group, where he’s made himself home since then by dropping a couple EPs & Return of the Oro in the early part of this decade. But to follow up his 38 Spesh-produced 3rd EP In God We Trust that came out over the fall, he’s enlisting 9th Wonder behind the boards throughout his 5th album right here.

Planet Asia tags along for the charming opener “Summer League” spitting that fly shit on top of a guitar whereas “Skyview” has a more rich, boom bap quality to it talking about how he still gets around. “Been a Minute” goes into a more calmer route telling his lover that he ain’t like other guys, but then “Paid in Full” works in an incredible jazz sample talking about how even the blind can see the whole different sequence.

Meanwhile on “Don Music”, we have 38 Spesh joining Mus on top of some horns of course getting in their mafioso bag leading into the soulful “Cat Daddy” talking about the girl he sees in his dreams being all on him now. “Deja Vu” is a cool little anthem detailing that nobody can stop his crew just before “Sun Child” has a more drumless feel to it talking about how he’s that dude.

The song “Tunnel Vision” with Izzy Hott incorporates some strings taking aim at those who tried to break them down while the penultimate track “Miami Vice” with Ice Lord mixes a vocal loop with some keyboards to spit that braggadocio. And to round it out, King Draft & Swank come into the picture for “Sincerely” once again going into jazz territory to remind listeners they spit the shit they do because they live it.

For all the readers out there who’re fans of both parties, then you’re gonna absolutely be enamored by this album. The features at the back end of it can be hit or miss & a few of the songs could’ve been more fully fleshed out in my opinion but nonetheless, 9th cooks the best production of any Mus project & the latter scorches everything in his path lyrically.

Score: 8/10

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Phonk P & godBLESSbeatz – “Off-White Underbelly” (EP Review

Phonk P is a 32 year old MC from Compton, California who came to my attention in the spring of 2019 after dropping the collab EP Up’s & Down’s with his mentor Flee Lord, who would sign P to Lord Mobb Music following the release of his Local Astronauts-produced EP Bitters. However for his official debut under the ever-growing New York based indie imprint, godBLESSbeatz is being brought in to his sophomore EP in it’s entirety which caught my attention given the fact that the Loyalty or Death: Lord Talk trilogy was a lot of people’s introduction to Flee with myself being included.

After the titular intro, the first song “Murder Medley” opens the EP with Fred Blaze & Hyde Park tagging along on top of some melancholic piano chords thirsting for blood whereas “Hiatus” takes a smokier route putting a pause on the haters out there. Compton Menace comes into the picture for the horn/trap infused “Ghetto Byrds” talking about family over everything leading into the hypnotic “Resin” encouraging to keep your enemies closer. The dusty penultimate track “Bity of Industry” finds Hyde returning to proclaim that they’ll bust on anyone who disses them & “Lately” ends it off on a jazzy yet introspective note.

From the get-go, I had a feeling that Off-White Underbelly was gonna be P’s best work thus far & I stood corrected at the end of the day. I feel like he kinda overdid it on the features a tad bit, but there’s no denying that this is the best he’s ever sounded lyrically & godBLESSbeatz’ production on here compared to his previous efforts is just on a different dimension.

Score: 7/10

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Shady Ray – “Blood Work” (Album Review)

This is the sophomore album from Inglewood emcee Shady Ray, who’s been around for a little over a decade with a handful of mixtapes under his belt including The Sinister & 1 Man Gang. But now that he signed to Lord Mobb Music a little bit after dropping his full-length debut Blood Pool, Ray celebrated Christmas Eve by having Sushi Punk produce Blood Work from front to back.

After the titular intro, the first song “Dark Path” starts off the whole EP by enlisting Jameel Na’im X for a drumless look at them fighting demons whereas “Fine China” has a more alluring sound to it saying he doesn’t make threats. “Appetite” goes back into drumless territory spitting some vicious battle raps leading into the calming “Medicated” talking about being blessed to be where is now.

Meanwhile on “Water on the Spoon”, we have Ray & Aaqil Ali coming together on top of a soul/horn sample to spit that heroin shit leading into Bale as well as T.F. & Young Act tagging along for “Where We At” to call out those who act like they came from the slums over yet another melodic vocal loop.

The song “Cannes” with BVNGS, Eto, Gifted Gab & Phonk P finds the quintet on top of some guitar licks going at those who have beef with them while the penultimate track “Act n’ Shady” with Flee Lord & Young Act weaves in some dreary pianos telling punks to leave all 3 of them alone. “Soul Food” finishes it all off by getting inspirational lyrically with these heavy horns backing him.

In the end, I think this is the crown jewel of Ray’s discography so far & have a feeling this is only the beginning. Lyrically, I feel like listeners will get a good idea as to who he is personality-wise & Sushi Punk comes correct behind the boards as well.

Score: 7/10

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