Skribbal – “Black Eyed Children” (Album Review)

This is the 3rd album from Selma, Oregon emcee Skribbal. Coming up in 2016 off the strength of his full-length debut Drug Spun Funk, the man would catch the attention of the rising Wisconsin underground label Force 5 Records & put out his sophomore effort Skinwalker a couple years later. But once Skribbal dropped his debut EP Quarantine Sessions last 4/20, he would leave the label to form his own Sony Music imprint Hell Patrol Records & the newfound independence by coming together with the highly anticipated Black Eyed Children.

After the “Retribution” intro performed by death metal icon Chris Barnes, the first actual song on the album “Born All Over” is a Napalm Drop cut where Skribbal & Big Left get together to talk about how hip hop gets them through the day on top of a sample of the O.V. Wright joint of the same name whereas “Find My Way” is a somber boom bap cut about being afraid of change.

For “Bring the Pain”, we have Skribbal on top of a quasi-funky instrumental to declare music as his therapy before declaring that he’ll never sell his soul on the dysphoric “Vampire Tactics”. We have RedCloud accompanying the mic for the heinous “Dreams in the Witch House” & the Iyze Lowe takes his spot to rap about how “can’t nobody do it like we do” on “Keep It Movin’”.

Meanwhile on “The Man Who Fell from the Sky”, Skribbal vividly details a story about a man trying to escape the US while he & Emycst declare themselves stronger than ever on the enchantingly-produced “Stronger Than Ever”. The song “We Are Not Alone” with Aether Haze is a cool dedication to all the struggling foster kids in the world on top of a beat with some grimly bells, but Celph Titled & Damian Krypt come together to get on the horrorcore tip for “Halloween Apples”.

Even though “Beyond the Black Rainbow” has a dark sound to it, I do enjoy the motivational lyrics about finding the light. The penultimate track “Wreck the System” with The R.O.C. is a dusty battle rap cut & to finish it all off, Dopehead Dan & the DG@F general himself Chucky Chuck hop on for the weed-themed “Pass the Green”.

The first of 4 bonus songs “Man with the Screaming Brain” goes into a more trap direction as Skribbal challenges all competition to bring the smoke before returning to a more boom bap sound to detail everything he’s learned on “Child of the State”. Dude brings in an organ & vocal harmonizing for the self-deprecating “Slave to the Pain & then we get some ominous keyboards as he details a regular day in the ghetto on “No Good: A Hood Story”.

In comparison to Skribbal’s last 2 albums, Black Eyed Children is a completely different vibe but in a good way. He focuses a lot less on the horrorcore aspect of things lyrically to focus on displaying his overall skills a lot more & is prominently boom bappy than before.

Score: 7/10

Ouija Macc – “Dirtbag” (Mixtape Review)

This is the 5th mixtape from Las Vegas rapper Ouija Macc. Originally breaking out in 2017 off the strength of his debut EP Trashfire, this resulted in the Insane Clown Posse making him the final act to ever sign with Psychopathic Records later that year. Ouija has since been holding it down for the hatchet by dropping 2 full-length albums, 3 EPs, 4 tape, a greatest hits compilation & a collab EP with Starfoxlaflare. But after forming his own label Chapter 17 Records & dropping a collaborative mixtape with Young Money Entertainment signee Baby E a couple months ago, Ouija is enlisting the Floridian production duo Mythic Mindz for Dirtbag.

“Ain’t No Savior” kicks the door down by encouraging the listener to crank the volume up super high over a sitar-laced trap beat from Devereaux whereas the next song “Demon Seed” is a cacophonous depiction of a ritual. Ouija goes on to do a good job at melodically opening up about depression on the grungy “Route 17” & then “Killing Spree” brings in a chiming instrumental as the lyrics take a turn into horrorcore turf.

The track “Domino” brings in a bit of a country twang in the production to talk how this is the way it has to be while we get a bass-heavy ode to the kinky motherfuckers out there on “Nympho”. For “Did It Myself”, we get a Bollywood-flavored anthem about his grind before the Shaggytheairhead provides a dinky beat for Ouija to acknowledge his weirdness on “Walking WTF”.

Meanwhile on “La Cienega”, we get a quirky instrumental & Ouija bringing his speediest flows imaginable without making it sound cliche whereas “Thuggalo Slide” is a bassy anthem for the thuggalos to ride to. The song “Monster vs. Man” continues to bring in guitars as the lyrics tackle inner turmoil while “Not Enough” is Ouija talking about wanting more sex & drugs on top of a wailing trap beat.

The adrenaline-inducing “Die Like This” takes aim at his detractors whereas the electronic-influenced “Understand Us” is about how misunderstood juggalos are in the hip hop world. “I Don’t Know” doesn’t sound too bad for a cloudy love song while the penultimate track is a trap/rock fusion about burning it all down. As for the closer, “I’m Nowhere” talks about being a ghost over a sludgy instrumental.

This dude is just reaffirming his status as one of the most consistent artists in the underground today. He makes a great return to his normal style after the more commercial We Never Forgot & it’s cool to hear Mythic Mindz helping him out dabbling into new sounds.

Score: 8/10

The Alchemist – “This Thing of Ours” (EP Review)

This is the 9th EP from Beverly Hills producer, DJ & emcee The Alchemist. Coming up as 1/2 of The Whooliganz in 1993 with Scott Caan, the disbanded a year later after recording a debut album that eventually got shelved & Scott went onto acting. Mudfoot however, quickly established himself as a household name in hip hop production by working with a handful of the culture’s most iconic names ranging from Mobb Deep to Eminem. Last thing we heard from him solo wise was The Food Villain back in October & after producing the new Armand Hammer album Haram to universal acclaim last month, Uncle Al is staying busy by amassing 6 emcees for This Thing of Ours.

The opener “Nobles” weaves in a Sun Ra sample as Navy Blue & Earl Sweatshirt trade bars back & forth with one another while the next song “TV Dinners” is a bit oxymoronic with it’s calming instrumental along with Boldy James & Sideshow declaring themselves as soldiers through the lyrics. The penultimate track “Holy Hell” by Maxo & Pink Siifu goes on about the devil wanting their souls over a guitar & a vocal sample before Earl returns to talk about people nickel & diming on the trumpet-heavy closer “Loose Change”.

Not the best EP we’ve heard from The Alchemist, but still an enjoyable listen. His production is a lot more chilled out in comparison to Haram & despite a couple of the guest MCs providing weak verses, most of them do what they do best.

Score: 7/10

Apollo Blaze – “Break the Cycle“ (Album Review)

Apollo Blaze from Washington D.C. has just released his newest album titled “Break the Cycle”. This 13 track album is insatiably dark dealing with deep disturbing topics such as sexual assault, the death of a loved one, heartbreak and more. This album is a woeful ode that explores the varying feelings of grief that gets associated with loss. From trauma to triumph, Apollo Blaze seeks to break the cycle of grief and achieve contentment and happiness. This album is the full personification of grief and the demons that come with it. 

We start with his first track break the cycle, this track is interesting because we start the album with the resolution to the cycle of being sad. Apollo Blaze knows that in order to break the cycle, he must go through the stages of grief that will help him get there. The concept of the album is interesting because he is not only grieving over one loss, but is mourning the multiple tragedies at once. He is dealing with the deepest sadness that one human can feel. He explores emotion through an experienced lens, lamenting over the death of his mother. 

Apollo Blaze weaves through heartbreak and the feeling of not belonging in the opening tracks of this album. “Don’t Belong” demonstrates the feeling of detachment one feels after experiencing trauma and loss. We then move onto “Dark Rose”, a name he has coined for his beloved. The imagery of his beloved is cloaked in black representing sadness and loss. Yet she still encompasses all the beauty of a rose. We then transition in to borrowed time, where he laments on the fickleness of time passing and how it isn’t his to control. It seems that even his mere existence is cause for anxiety and angst. Holidays that are suppose to be filled with joy and warmth are replaced with anger and grief. 

At least Apollo Blaze realizes that there is nothing on earth that can get to him at this point because he’s been to hell and back. Whether he’s giving us a first person narrative or sharing someone else’s tale, we all can relate to the struggle and triumph of what is means to lose something or someone you once loved. Join Apollo Blaze on his journey to self discovery in Break the Cycle, available now on all streaming platforms.

Score: 6/10

Def Soulja & Saint Michael – “There’s a Saint in Every Soulja” (EP Review)

This is the latest EP from Bronx emcee Def Soulja. Emerging in 2015 off of the 3-pack Recognize a Soulja, the 37 year old wordsmith only continued to gain notoriety by dropping a handful of singles & small projects since then. But after finishing off the trilogy that got his name out there to begin with, Saint Michael is being brought in the picture for “There’s a Soulja in Every Saint.”

“Let Masses Begin” is a great opener as Def Soulja hops on a piano instrumental to describe everything he’s seen in the hood while things take a turn into the boom bap route so he can call out tough talkers on the short but deadly “Your Worth”. Jay Blue comes into the picture on the hair-raising “Stimmy” as the pair articulate what money can do & even though Def is saying ill shit on “Ripe Fruit”, the instrumental is obnoxious as Hell. The closer “New Day Same Agenda” is a classy way to finish the EP off by flipping the phrase “same shit, different day” on it’s head.

I gotta say, “There’s a Soulja in Every Saint” could very well be the best body of work that Def Soulja has put out to date. He doesn’t ham-fist the religious themes of the EP like other artists sometimes do & Saint Michael’s production is amongst the grimiest he’s ever whipped up.

Score: 7/10

Astrokidjay – “No Love No Trust Freestyle” (Music Video)

Fresh out the gate and receiving co-signs from heavyweights like Murda Beatz, up-and-coming Toronto recording artist Astrokidjay and his braggadocious style is quickly emerging as a hip-hop’s artist-to-watch in 2021. Today, the new star delivers a new visual to his best work yet with “No Love No Trust (Freestyle).” Stream it here.

In the new video, Astrokidjay flexes his exotic whips, floors of blue faces and pick of women for every day of the week. Along with the accessories, the newcomer drops a series of fresh verses filled with hustler’s ambition, extreme confidence and more. The kid shoots for the moon and lands among the stars on this one.

The new single is more of his fire sale of new music by Astrokidjay, which is a lead-up to the anticipated album. “No Love No Trust Freestyle” is the perfect jump-on point for any newfound fan. Stream the single everywhere via Karmaxwave.

Watch the new visual below and for more on Astrokidjay on Instagram.

Darkness I Am – “Psycho / Strange” (Album Review)

Darkness I Am has dropped a new project titled “Psycho/Strange”. It is a two part album, side A or Psycho Addition has twelve songs while side B Strange Addition has eleven totaling out to 23 tracks. Darkness I Am is originally from St. Paul, Minneapolis, hence his east coast idols/influences such as Onyx, KRS-One, Tech N9ne, Insane Clown Posse Gucci Mane, and Young Jeezy. These influences can definitely be heard throughout these two albums with Darkness’s hard hitting delivery and aggressive tone throughout. 

“Psycho / Strange” can be classified and an alternative hip hop album with layers of hardcore thematics. The two-part album features a number of artists such as Hatchet Monkey, Twisted Insane, KD The Stranger, MMMFD, Earnest Dowson, Liquid Assassin, MARS, Cryptic Wisdom, DUBBS and Madchild. 

The dual album is promptly split into two sections where one deals with a massive amount of internal conflict, while the other deals with the external. Songs such as Demons delve into the conflicts of the mind that one must overcome in order to function properly and succeed in life. Misery and Obsession lament over aspects of life that are unchangeable. The next track after these is Damaged where Darkness recounts his troubled youth and how that’s changed him as a man today. 

The second half of “Psycho / Strange” is full of life and upbeat tempos. The high energy juxtaposed against the first dejected half is a nice transition to go through emotionally. The Strange Addition side proves Darkness I Am’s passion and rage that is released in 45 minutes alongside some lyrically driven features. His emotional presence on the second half is much more present and demanding of the listener’s attention. Darkness I am takes on the world on this second half going in on other MC’s and mastering his hardcore persona. “Psycho / Strange” is available on all streaming platforms now.

Score: 6/10

Pitt tha Kid ft. Lil Wayne & Talaban Dooda – “Run” (Official Video)

The best rapper alive, Lil Wayne, helps usher in the arrival of platinum producer-turned-recording artist Pitt Tha Kid in the release of the juxtaposition visual to the debut single, titled “Run.” For the collaboration, Pitt, the man behind hits for Young Thug, Big Sean and 2 Chainz, brings Wayne and newcomer Taleban Dooda into his world, where nothing but pure mayhem ensues. Stream it here.

Directed by Thelonius Poon, the debut is an amazing first impression by the 5x platinum producer. Over the high-scale production of new wave elements-meets-classic hip hop boom-bap, Lil Wayne takes lead with a signature verse and hook with Taleban adding a catchy verse of his own to make the song a bonafide hit. And with one of the biggest names in music on your debut, Pitt Tha Kid is definitely a name we are going to see on the top of the charts in no time.

“Run” is only the beginning for the Toronto artist. Pitt Tha Kid promises more new music in 2021, which will lead to a forthcoming album. Until then, Pitt’s debut is the perfect jump-on point for any newfound fan. “Run” is available on all DSPs via own imprint. For more on Pitt Tha Kid, follow him on Instagram.

Lil Wayne appears courtesy of Universal Music Group. Watch the new visual for “Run” below.

Clay James Taps G-Man On The Beat For “Hold Me Down” Visual

Not too long ago, emerging rhyme slayer, Clay James, went viral on Twitter for his unbelievable freestyle abilities. Today, he shows newfound fans that the bars weren’t just a fluke, he can make hit music too. For the upcoming film, Out On The Lim, James links up with G-Man On The Beat from Front Pierce to talk to the women for a little bit on the stylistic new visual, properly titled “Hold Me Down.”

Available via Playas Circle Music Group, the Reese Davis-directed visual stars Clay James as a man on a mission looking for one woman who will right beside him when he takes on the world. Linking up with G-Man On The Beat, James raps about being approached by the baddest of the baddests women and that the popularity, make-up and enhancements don’t impress him at all. But give him a woman with morals, goals and perspective, and he will love and appreciate her like the queen she is. The visual is a direct follow-up to James’ viral freestyle over the “Dogecoin” freestyle.

“Hold Me Down” is merely a glimpse of what Clay James has in store for the next generation of Hip Hop. Originally from Savannah, James was discovered by the Atlanta icon-himself Big Boi of the legendary duo Outkast. It was Big Boi who hand-picked “Hold Me Down” for the film’s soundtrack. James explains:

“Hold me down is a special record to me because it was produced by my little cousin G-man On Tha Beat, and this is our first released record together. On top of that for my music video, I was styled by my high school friend Christy Marshall. So this one is a real family affair.”

Along with supplying music, James is also set to co-star in the upcoming film as the character Tommy. Out On A Lim stars Jamal Woolard (Notorious). The coming-of-age drama is about an ex-high school football star who discovers that one bad decision can have dire consequences. Slated for this Summer, for more on the film and Clay James, follow the rising star on Instagram.

Watch the video for “Hold Me Down” below.