Alla Xul Elu – “Necronomichron 2: Dead by Bong” (Album Review)

Alla Xul Elu is an Ohio-based horrorcore trio consisting of Billy Obey, Joey Black & Lee Carver. Originally breaking out in 2015 as a duo, Billy & Joe started out by releasing their first 2 albums Head of Horns & Sci-Co that same year. This was followed up with their 4/20-themed debut EP Necronomichron in 2017 & adding Carver into the fold shortly after. But it wasn’t until Twiztid signed them to Majik Ninja Entertainment in 2018 when the Xul Boys’ music got increasingly better. Their MNE debut The Almighty is unquestionably the greatest horrorcore album of the 2010s, their 2019 sophomore EP Church of Xul took a much darker approach & the trio’s previous album Mauxuleum made it in the top 10 of my Best Releases of 2020 list despite them ditching their signature boom bap sound for a more industrial, trap metal direction. But to celebrate the 4 year anniversary of the original Necronomichron, it’s only right for A.X.E. to celebrate by dropping their 5th full-length album as a sequel.

After the “Taking a Trip” intro, the first song “An Ominous Shack” has an unhinged boom bap beat from BAD MiND (who produced all but 3 tracks on the whole album) as the trio detail a fucked up vacation & then “Down in the Dark” goes into a more industrial direction with lyrics about making plans with Mary Jane. The song “Deja Vu” is a grimy sequel to the title track of the first Necronomichron while “Fire It Up” dives into that trap metal sound provided by the Zombie Aristocrats & of course the lyrics are about lighting up the weed.

 

“Smoke” is a chaotic anthem about not wanting their high to be blown & then “Dead by Bong” feels more like an interlude as the lyrics are very repetitive despite the electronic-influenced production. The song “Alternate Dimension” is a dusty sequel to “Another Dimension” with a stellar Blaze Ya Dead Homie verse while “Within the Trees” is a gruesome horrorcore cut detailing forest monsters.

After the “Necronomicream” skit, the track “Munchiez” is a sinister depiction about how they handle being hungry when stoned while “Pass Away” contains some ominous organ harmonies as they talk about staying High & avoiding daylight. The album finishes off with “Kandarian Dabber”, where the A.X.E. deliver a wicked anthem to dabbin’.

Necronomichron is one of my favorite projects that Xul has ever put out, but this is a rare instance where I prefer the sequel over the predecessor. It’s great to hear the trio returning to the very sound that they become known for & the marijuana-themed lyrics have evolved tremendously.

Score: 9/10

Eric Bobo & Stu Bangas – “Empires” (Album Review)

This is a brand new collab album between Eric Bobo & Stu Bangas. The latter is one of the underground’s most in-demand producers hauling from Boston, Massachusetts & the other notably being the percussionist for South Gate titans Cypress Hill. Despite being on different coasts, both parties developed a close friendship off similar interests & are joining forces for 4/20 to drop Empires.

The title track by Vangarde is a baneful opener about painting pictures with Mr. Lif’s mind, but then the next song “Chemtrails” by RJ Payne, Vinnie Paz & Xzibit wastes no time jumping on that boom bap as the trio start shit-talking. “Get With This One” incorporates some percussion & a Godzilla-like horn section as B-Real & Pharoahe Monch get together for a homage to the classic Black Sheep joint “The Choice is Yours”, but then “Total Kaos” by Psycho Les is a spooky recap of 2020.

The song “Move Weight” by Khujo, Lonnie Lyle & The Wordsmith is a downcast look into being street-smart while “Red Dot” incorporates some chilly keyboards as Rob Markman details how every rhyme he writes is 25 to life. The song “No Survivors” by Nowaah the Flood and Watson & Holmes is a cold-blooded depiction of the streets, but then “Pass the Fire” by Demrick is a classy weed-smoking anthem. Meanwhile on “Call It Like I See It, we have Reverie hopping on a weary albeit funky instrumental to insult her competition & then we have Lord Goat teaming up with Krazy Race for the horrorcore-themed “Dark Mind”.

The song “City of Angels” by Blu & Rakaa is g-funk homage to their hometown of LA, but then “Another One for the Books” by Apathy & Celph Titled is a disgusting look (in a good way) at the things they’ve done. The penultimate track “Street Smarts” by Ill Bill & O.C. is one of the most lethal cuts on the album as they talk about “hittin’ ’em at point blank range”, but then “The Reset” by Sick Jacken & Huero Diablo is a feel-good tune about living their lives to the fullest.

I know this album has been in the works for the past couple of years now, but man is the end result a wild ride. The list of guest MCs that got to hop on board is damn near-stellar & it’s really cool to hear both of Eric & Stu’s signature sounds mesh in with each other seamlessly.

Score: 7/10

King Relik – “DEMENT3D” (Album Review)

King Relik is a 38 year old MC from Long Beach, California emerging on Valentine’s Day 2017 off his debut EP 12:45 produced entirely by Klepto K. However, he ended up signing to Wisconsin-based underground label Force 5 Records last February & is finally delivering his full-length debut just in time for 4/20.

The opener “Vilynz” connects with Skribbal & Radek to declare themselves as bad guys on top of an organ-laced beat whereas the next song “Sl33p” goes into a more electronic direction as Relik talks about being an insomniac. “Syko” reads as a 1-minute bipolar episode on wax as the overall sound of it keeps jumping all over the place, but then “Yogurl (Rollyaeyez)” goes into detail about this hoe over a minimal instrumental.

The song “Nayzay” dives into a more glitchy, industrial-sounding as he spits that wicked shit while “Grynd” is a chaotic punk rock anthem that I’m sure will get the pits going. The song “P.O.S. (Piece Of Shit)” talks about working on himself over an organ & some hi-hats, but then “Read the Note” is a spectrally-produced storytelling joint about Relik pulling off a robbery.

The track “Spacevan” dives into a more piano-boom bap direction with lyrics about hotboxing whereas “Pimpin’” is a more ill-lit vibe in the production as Relik & Lima Beans paint themselves as actual pimps. The penultimate song “Rabidbaboon” incorporates some synth-horns with lyrics about how wild dude is & then the album ends with “Handles”, which feels like a 1-minute homage to bands like Green Day & blink-182.

Been curious to hear how King Relik would sound on his own & I think DEMENT3D is actually a pretty solid album. It’s cool to hear the wide rage of sounds that the producers bring to the table & the guy has never sounded better lyrically.

Score: 7/10

Khrysis – “The Hour of Khrysis” (Album Review)

Khrysis is a 39 year old producer & occasional MC from Durham, North Carolina coming up 1/2 of the duo The Away Team alongside Sean Boog. He’s also a key member of Jamla Records’ in-house production team The Soul Council, lacing a chockfull of albums for the label up to this point. But with 4 solo albums under his belt already, Khrysis is celebrating 4/20 by dropping a 5th one.

The opener “Never Change” is actually Khrysis himself spitting about always staying true over some bongos & a guitar, but then the next song “Granted” by Mumu Fresh is literally her expressing hope that she doesn’t get taken for granted over a funky instrumental with some popping drums. The song “Delta9” by Geechi Suede is of course about getting stoned & the instrumental has a trippier edge to it, but then “Mr. Big Mouth II” by De La Soul goes into a boom bap direction as the trio deliver a sequel to “Big Mouth” off their 2009 mixtape Are You In?.

The Away Team reunite like they haven’t stopped working together on the keyboard-laced “The Return” & then “Why?” by Problem is about being clueless towards the haters he has on top of a soul sample & some militant drums. The song “Asylum” by Evidence is more synth-induced as he spits about being an original gentleman, but then “Colombian Necktie” returns to the boom bap sound as Niko Is delivers one of the more underwhelming performances on the album.

“The Code” by Chi-Ali is a jazzier cut that’s about him being happy to be released from prison after murdering his ex-girlfriend’s brother while “The Devil Wears Designer” by Reuben Vincent is about a deceitful woman over a horn-inflicted beat. “Negro Spiritual” finds Khrysis joining Busta Rhymes & Pharoahe Monch on top of a crooning vocal sample in the back as the trio spit that Black Power shit, but then “The Disrespect” by Rapsody & Sa-Roc goes into that College Dropout sound as the 2 go in about being disrespected.

The penultimate track “Keep on Walkin’” by Del the Funky Homosapien is a piano-boom bap banger about how nobody owes you shit & then the album finishes off with “Be Alright”, which is Khrysis himself hopping on top of a soul-tinged Eric G. instrumental to spit about working too hard for earn loyalty.

In comparison to his previous solo efforts, I think this is Khrysis’ best one yet. There are only a couple guests I could’ve done without, but almost every one of them delivery fiery performances as the dude presents a well-tuned showcasing of what he’s capable of doing behind the boards with a dash of his MC skills every here & there.

Score: 8/10

ARIEL J – “EXCITED”

Ariel J is a name and sound we will become very familiar with inside 2021. After she caught our attention with her buzzworthy single “Enough,” the emerging new singer/songwriter capitalizes on the attention with the release of her anticipated single “Excited.” Featuring fellow rising star Charayana J, the new single is the first official release under her new deal with Young Intelligent LLC.

Produced by Lug Soda •BMP : 123, “Excited” is a smooth love song about appreciating the beauty of her muse. It’s about the addictive symptoms that come with discovering new love. Ariel J takes us through all the emotions that draw the pleasure of being around the one we love from both a physical and mental point of view. Over the soothing Jazz-esqe production, Ariel admires her love interest’s undeniable features like lips, hypnotizing stare and seductive v-cut that intoxicate her every time. “Excited” is the perfect song for any time of the day or night with your lover while showcasing Ariel J rarity as an emerging artist in today’s R&B. Making you a newly discovered fan of the rising star from the first listen, instantly.

The song comes as support, appreciation and pride for the LGBTQ community. A community she champions daily through the music, “I hope that my music starts necessary conversations around the way LGBTQ+ people are presented in media, treated as individuals, and understood as a whole.”

She continues: “Being part of the LGBTQ+ community, they’re so many layers to what we feel and are often unable to express. I try to make songs that bridge the gap when it comes to understanding our human experience, highlighting the fact that we’re much more alike than we are different.”

A brief history on Ariel J, the Mississippi native began creating music at nine-year-old. Growing up in church, Ariel’s passion for music became extremely persistent as she got older. She established a grassroots fanbase early on in her career through cover songs. A practice she still promotes til this day with covering chart-topping singles by several of today’s biggest names in R&B. Among the covers, Ariel J released intriguing originals that showcased her tremendous range and songwriting abilities like “We Deserve Better,” “Layers” and “A Song For You.” It’s merely a matter of time before Ariel J is synonymous with one of the best songwriters in the business along with being one of the best new entertainers.

Definitely, a refreshing new sound needed on the charts right now. She’s the total package. Her popularity only continues to grow via word of mouth and social media. Producing catchy singles, undeniable beauty, and enormous co-signs from fans and collaborators.

Ariel J is ready to further her career in 2021 with an anticipated debut project(s) release expected late in the year. “I have an EP on the way called ‘LET ME BE.’ It’s a very personal project– a glimpse into my home life, my dating life, my journey as a person and as an artist. Can’t wait to share it,” said Ariel J.

Lately, the fearless talent has been very vocal about how she plans to fill the void missing in today’s music industry, stating, “There aren’t enough songs centered around love, unity, and understanding. I want to help usher these kinds of messages into mainstream media.”

Upcoming projects, more covers, and other intangibles. Now is the perfect origin point to get familiar with Ariel J and what’s next. To stay up-to-date on everything Ariel J, follow the rising talent on social media.

Stream Ariel J’s new single below and check out the lyric visual here.

Alexa V ft. CITK, Jazz Fresh & Sauce – “Alright”

Rising Hip-Hop/R&B artist, Alexa V, releases a motivational new single featuring CITK, Jazz Fresh & Sauce, titled “Alright,” via Hunnafied Records/Empire Distribution. The new single sees Alexa display hypnotic vocals accompanied by thought-provoking bars provided by the aforementioned emcees’s. Stream the single below and stay tuned for updates on Alexa V.

Stream it here.

York Records Tap DJ Envy For New Project ‘Genesis Vol.1’

York Records burst on the scene in 2020 with several stellar releases by popular battle rapper Arsonal. Today, the label executives Dizz & Capt introduce the new roster of talent expected to propelled the label to greatness this year with the release of their first compilation series called Genesis Vol.1. For the formal introduction, the label taps well-known radio personality/DJ DJ Envy to host the project and plant the project with authentic roots.

The first edition is a 10-track release, starring Mr. So Disrespectul, BundlesFVG, Cory North, Frxxsauce and Marko24k. A formal introduction for most, the project features unforgettable verses from the entire cast and, with its cohesive tracklisting, the project is destined to make York Record one of the most exciting new record labels of 2021. The album comes on the peak of each artist’s transition to superstardom.

“We choose to put this compilation together based on each individual artist and where they are respectively in their careers. This is hard authentic street shit from the beginning to the end,” says York Records.

Available everywhere now, the project is a must-hear for any Hip Hop fan. Hosted by DJ Envy and supported by several a-list co-signers, Genesis Vol.1 is a project that will be discussed all year long as we await official album releases for each of the acts involved. Dj Envy appears on the project via own imprint.

Get familiar with York Records today, stream the entire project below.

Anybody Killa – “Smoke That Up” (EP Review)

This is the 10th EP from Detroit veteran Anybody Killa. Coming up as a member of the Krazy Klan with his childhood friend Lavel, it wouldn’t be until 2000 when the Native Funk dropped his official solo debut Rain from the Sun. 2 years later, he made his big break in the underground when the Insane Clown Posse signed him to Psychopathic Records & released his sophomore album Hatchet Warrior to universal acclaim amongst the juggalos. This was followed up in 2004 with Dirty History & the debut EP Road Fools a year after, but ABK decided to form his own label Native World Inc. in 2006 & he even left Psychopathic temporarily so he could focus on building his own brand. His 2008 comeback Mudface ended up being a total mess on all fronts, but he would eventually team up with Brian Kuma in 2010 to make up for it with Medicine Bag. Then after a 9-year hiatus, ABK left Psychopathic to focus on Native World once again & put out a party-themed comeback album Tampon Juice to mixed responses. But as he’s currently prepping up A.B.K. (Always Bringing Knowledge) & supposedly Shapeshifter, Killa is celebrating 4/20 by putting out Smoke That Up produced entirely by DJ Hazey.

“Pre-Session” is a short, bass-heavy introduction warming up the listener for what’s to come where’s the next song “Smoking In Common” goes into a more g-funk direction sound-wise as ABK dedicates this to all the like-minded tokers out there. The title track is a synth-laced banger encouraging listeners to light one up & then “We Smoking” is a more groovy, melodic cut about wanting them to leave him be as he gets high.

I know this is just a 4/20-themed EP, but I actually like it more than Tampon Juice & has me looking forward to A.B.K. (Always Bringing Knowledge) whenever that album comes out. DJ Hazey’s production is some of the best I’ve ever heard from him & the playful vibes that ABK delivers in his performances have improved.

Score: 7/10