Big O x P-Rawb – “The Complexity” (Album Review)

Originally from Philly/South Jersey, lyricist P-Rawb teams up with Big O to deliver this nine track album featuring Tyana Marie, Gabby and mixing by Big O, Chris Chase and Shane Great. “The Complexity” can be described as a body of work that reflects the ebbs and flows of P-Rawb’s life. Let’s get into this.

“Vertabrae” is the first track on the album and features a super silky baseline, shout out to Big O. P-Rawb puts on an applause worthy opening performance. Lyrically, this song is perspective story telling done right, coupled with slick flow switches from start to finish. This was a truly gifted performance, from the writing to the delivery, good job!

The production on “Crush” is just super fresh! Glitchy breaks mixed to perfection. P-Rawb is smooth as he flexes his pen game and seems to dance over the beat. This song is a cool and suave version of the regular boy meets girl concept. Then just when you think it’s over, you’re given the sweetest little wholesome lick of something beautiful by Big O.

“SoulScape” features one of the smoothest beats on the entire tape. The strings, the keys, the baseline and the drums, this production is wholesome. Lyrically, P-Rawb gives us an insight into the complexities of his life and of the inner workings of his mind. Clever rhyme schemes are at play on this track and Shane Great did a great job with the mix.

As far as producer/rapper duos go, these two artists definitely hit the mark. The album is jazzy, thoughtful and skilfully crafted. The rapping is consistent, the production is clean from start to finish and the features are excellently selected. If you’re a fan of genuinely fresh finds, this album is for you. Honourable mention goes to “Enjoy The Ride”, this production is so fresh! Also “Who Am I”, this song is for straight rap fans, trust me. Follow these two on Instagram: @prawb & @bigrodamous

Score: 9/10

Dough Networkz Presents: T.F & Local Astronauts – “Skanless Summer EP” (Review)

Los Angeles MC T.F joined forces with Local Astronauts and Dough Networkz Presents to release not only a dope 10 track EP with “Skanless Summer,” but what also could be considered more of a Hip Hop audio movie describing a day in LA during Summer.  It is no secret that T.F is a movie buff, and off rip we get a nod to the legendary Halloween antagonist with the album’s first track “Michael Myers.”

T.F then flips the channel to some pro wrestling, giving a nod to the first WWF North American Heavyweight Champ “Ted DiBiase” with a bass-heavy, soulfully looped banger named after the aforementioned wrestling legend. With a properly placed song-outro skit containing an audio clip of the Million Dollar Man himself, we get into “Blowin’ Racks” featuring Ice Cold Bishop.

The next track we get further into the project’s narrative. “Spray” featuring Space Monsta narrates a chase with the police, with a track-end interlude of a breaking news report. The next track is a nod to the classic film “Menace II Society” with “A Wax and O Dog,” where TF, Bale and Trizz talk more skanless talk over a menacing piano laced beat.

Tracks like “My Section” featuring Bale, “Big Game James” with Jay Worthy,  “Lords In A Spaceship” featuring fellow Lord Mobb member G4 Jag and “Miami Nights” provide a diverse soundscape for the second half of the project before we return to another news segment reporting on mayhem in the streets, thus leading us to our final title track, “Skanless Summer.” It’s clear that summer came early this year, and with a Lord Mobb project up next, T.F is just getting started. Stream Dough Networkz Presents: T.F & Local Astronauts “Skanless Summer” below!

XL the Beast – “Heavy Hands” (Album Review)

XL the Beast is a 47 year old MC from Boston, Massachusetts who was formerly apart of a local group called The Kreators. However after dropping a slew of singles, he’s finally ready to unleash his full-length solo debut to the masses that has been in the making for almost 15 years.

“Reawakening” is ass-kicking opener from the rock-influenced production from The Arcitype to XL’s threatening lyricism whereas the Skyzoo-assisted “The World Today” gets on the conscious side of things on top of a horn-inflicted boom bap instrumental from Shuko. We get a surprise appearance from Heltah Skeltah on the roomy & appropriately titled “Credibility” just before fellow Boston native Slaine helps get on the introspective tip for the glistening “Wreckage of My Past”.

Meanwhile, we get an emotional look at a fraction of the man he used to be on the downhearted “Choices” before angrily getting in his shit-talking bag for “Apocalypse”. The organ-loop on “Sucker Punch” is a nice touch as REKS & Rock come into talk about throwing their opponents off guard & even though “Dead Ends” has my favorite hook on the album, the Moe Pope feature is just ok.

The song “Desolation” jumps on top of a spine-tingling instrumental to talk about feeling barren just before Shabaam Sahdeeq accompanies XL for “Fan of the Week”, where both parties talk about bringing the smoke. “Distorted Facts” has a sporadic feel to it sonically as Vice Versah & Moroney come in to address themselves as sick fucks with twisted thoughts while Domingo brings in some guitars for the braggadocious “$100 Bill”.

“Paper Champions” with Esoteric & Checkmark is of course a symphonic battle rap cut while XL & Big Shug talk about getting it in on the dusty “Writer’s Block”. The penultimate track “The Rain” gets romantic on top of a piano & a flute, but then the closer “See You Again” with G-Squared is a touching tribute to their homie Big Juan.

Coming away from Heavy Hands, I’m pretty impressed with it. The features are either hit or miss (for me personally anyway), but the diversity of it is very admirable & I feel like you get a good look at who XL is both artistically & personally.

Score: 7/10

Namir Blade & L’Orange – “Imaginary Everything” (Album Review)

Namir Blade is a 28 year old MC/producer from Nashville, Tennessee who first emerged at the beginning of 2018 off the strength of his debut album O.S.T. Worlds & Dreams. However, a lot of people (including myself) weren’t really familiar with the cat until he signed to Mello Music Group & dropped his critically acclaimed sophomore album Aphelion’s Traveling Circus this past fall. 8 months later, L’Orange is being tapped in to produce Namir’s 3rd full-length outing from start to finish.

The titular opener has these grand horn sections & Jimi Hendrix-esque guitar lead that I really like, but Namir’s vocals are totally buried in the mix. The next song “Lyra” continues to go into rock territory with lyrics about possibly becoming the next big thing whereas “Nihilism” is a wailing look into just that. Quelle Chris jumps on the boom bap flavored “Point to Point” to help talk about spending time on the road & despite the brevity of “Out East”, I love the Chappelle’s Show homage at the start & the overall charm of it.

We go back into that rap rock sound on “Corner Store Scandal”, which is literally about a unique purchase he made at a corner store. Fly Anakin jumps on the bass guitar-tinged “Gassed Up” to depict “pulling a shinobi” while “Shotgun” talks about holding it down backed by an instrumental that kinda has a psychedelic-flare to it. The peppy “Somebody’s Anthem” opens up the struggles of being “black on the interstate” before going into a more soulful direction to talk about wanting a lil life.

Meanwhile on “Murphy’s Law”, we get a warping beat as Namir foreshadows a shitty day before going melodic for 2-minutes on the minimally-produced “I Can Change”. The album then finishes off with “Pipe Dream”, where he & Marlowe jump on a spacey instrumental to boast their lyrical skills.

I was curious to hear where Namir Blade was gonna take things after Aphelion’s Traveling Circus, but man he really killed it on Imaginary Everything. Easily his best work to date in my opinion. His writing has improved & L’Orange’s production is otherworldly. If their goal was to make something extravagant out of the mundane, both parties have succeeded.

Score: 8/10

CZARFACE & MF DOOM – “Super What?” (Album Review)

This is the surprise 2nd collaborative album between East Coast supergroup CZARFACE & one of the most beloved MCs/producers in all of hip hop: MF DOOM. The first time we heard Inspectah Deck and 7L & Esoteric team up with Viktor was on “Ka-Bang!” off the trio’s classic 2015 sophomore album Every Hero Needs a Villain, which was followed up in 2018 with the appropriately titled CZARFACE Meets Metal Face. But after being delayed for the past year due to COVID-19 as well as DOOM’s unfortunate passing, Super What? is finally seeing the light of day.

“The King & Eye” is a solid way to kick the album off as the quartet team up with D.M.C. to declare themselves as royalty on top of a boom bap beat from none other than The Czar-Keys with some chimes being incorporated. The next song “Czarwyn’s Theory of People Getting Loose” goes on about how “there’s no dope in the industry” & even though I personally believe is far from true, all 3 of the verses on here are cutthroat as Hell. As for the production end of it: I like how it starts off grimy, but the switch-up midway through Esoteric’s verse was a bit unnecessary.

“Mando Calrissian” has a Special Herbs feel to it instrumentally as the trio talk about going commando, but then the track “DOOM Unto Others” is an decimating battle rap cut. Del the Funky Homosapien provides the best feature at the end of the threatening “Jason & the Czargonauts” before talking about “continuing where they left off” on the jazzy “Break in the Action”.

After the “A Name to the Face” skit, the song “This is Canon Now” is a 7L & Eso solo cut taking it back to the days of A New Dopeinstrumentally & dropping numerous comic references. The penultimate track “So Strange” incorporates an organ as well as some dusty drums as they pop off about the thoughts in their mind & even though I like the storytelling on “Young World” a lot, it’s a weird way to end the album.

Even though Super What? is more of an EP to me than a full-length, I still enjoyed it as much as CZARFACE Meets Metal Face. The chemistry between the 3 emcees never fails to amuse me & The Czar-Keys stick to their guns in terms of the project’s overall sound.

Score: 9/10

Mentes Diferentes – “Different State of Mind” (Album Review)

Coming off their latest collaboration project “Buenas Tardes” with The Desperados, and their 2020 release “Ocho“, Mentes Diferentes drop their newest full length album for 2021, “Different State of Mind” featuring a bunch of well known names such as Mr. Lil One, Mr. Shadow, Rico 2 Smooth, Lonely Souljah, and Castro Escobar. M.D. is a Chicano Collaborative of recording and visual artists from Sacramento CA which we first got introduced to at our Conejo and The Untouchables headlining event a few years back in Los Angeles. San Diego legend Mr. Lil One featued on 3 songs vouched for them and we had to put them on! We recently covered their lead single and video, “Strongest Survive” which got a positive response by our followers. In the song they emphasize that there is only 24 hours in a day and in Hip Hop you only have so much to time to create, and when you do, it should represent what you are all about. In M.D.’s case, they are about the craft of lyricism in English and Spanish.

Diving more into the project, “Phenom” is a underground banger featuring Mr. Lil One giving them one of the best intro verses to a song off the album.  “G to My Bone” featuring Rico 2 Smooth and Lonely Souljah, they bring that West Coast G-Funk sound that G’s can bump in any ride loud. “Status Quo” encompasses the overall feel of the album with each emcee letting you know their current state of mind. Getting to “Sinister Mind”, it’s dope to hear The Untouchables feel to the track with Misfit Soto on the beat and Mr. Shadow starting the track with a powerful verse and Mr. Lil One laying down a signature verse. “M.D.” featuring one of our personal favorite rising lyricists, Castro Escober, is a refreshing song with the oldies vibe that takes us back to the days when good music was constantly in rotation in your tape deck.

Skipping to the outro, D.S.O.M. out of all the songs has that grimy underground head bangin’ feel with the hard hitting production alongside the wordplay Mr. Shadow and the M.D. crew bring to the mic. With 3 songs without features Mentes Diferentes give the listener a bit of everything from Hardcore Hip Hop, Boom Bap, to G-Funk, and Chinano Rap, “Different State of Mind” is their best work to date and truly represent how latinos in the game are suppose to do it. For us to pick a favorite song is hard, but if we would to choose one, it would have to be “Sinister Cypher”, probably one of the best collab tracks we’ve heard in a while in 2021. Not to mention, anything with Lil One and Shadow, you should prepare by wearing a neck brace before putting on the headphones.

From the diverse styles of lyricism on “Different State of Mind” to the epic features with the beat selection to compliment, we rate this project a well deserved 8/10. Best believe, this won’t be the last you hear from Mentes Diferentes! M.D. are a much needed collective for not just Chicano rap, but for Hip Hop in general. Stream “Different State of Mind” on all platforms.

Benny The Butcher & Harry Fraud – “Overall” Ft. Chinx (Video)

Mere months after releasing an undisputed AOTY contender for 2020 with Burden Of Proof and making his theatrical acting debut with Conflicted, Benny The Butcher is now undeniably a star.  Upon its release, Burden Of Proof was an immediate smash, a fan and critic favorite, and his most commercially successful project to date; #1 at iTunes, #4 at Apple Music and Spotify, and highlighted by Rolling Stone on its Breakthrough top 25 Chart.  The project was also singled out on “Best Of 2020 Lists” by esteemed outlets such as Jay-Z’s Annual 2020 Vision Playlist, New York Times, LA Times, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Complex, Noisey, Stereogum, Billboard, 2dopeboyz, Hotnewhiphop, HipHopDx & Brooklynvegan among many others.  Though his own Grammy nominations are surely forthcoming, Benny capped off 2020 with two of his featured verses being included on Grammy-nominated projects; Freddie Gibbs & Alchemist’s Alfredo (“Frank Lucas”) and Royce Da 5’9”s The Allegory (“Upside Down”).

Benny’s new lick; The Plugs I Met 2 continues that upward trajectory, as the project topped the Rap Charts at Apple Music, iTunes and Spotify, while also garnering breakthroughs on the Rolling Stone Charts (#22 on the Top 200 Chart), Billboard (#33) and Hits Double Daily (#28).

Today, Benny & Harry Fraud are back with the visual for “Overall,” featuring Chinx (RIP!).

Watch Eduard Luli’s New Music Video Titled ‘NUMB’

Hailing from Australia, Eduard Luli is a new player you need to follow. His new release titled ‘NUMB’ expresses his very personal experience with a girl he fell for. Eduard Luli is in love with this girl but she won’t commit to him. She keeps coming around and playing with him, so he eases himself with drugs to numb the pain. Not quite of a love story, huh? Does it matter for us, because  Eduard Luli delivers his story with a clear style. He’s confident, his flow is sharp and silky. The beat is another thing you need to have a closer listen at – he blends edm, ambient, yet includes beaming drops, and powerful jumps. Good stuff!