Well, here we are, a whole month into the New Year, and as usual January was spent catching up on all the music I slept on last year. Normally the first part of the year is slow when it comes to new stuff, but hip-hop, with its ever-increasing abundance of releases, is not like other forms of music. Long gone are the days of a rapper releasing an album every other year, or at the most, once a year—nowadays, it’s not uncommon for an artist to drop multiple mixtapes, a collaboration (or two,) and a lengthy retail album, all within the span of 12 months. Keeping up with it takes a little more than just an unrelenting love of the art form; it takes ridiculous, stupefied, dare I say ill-advised dedication. And even then it’s impossible to catch it all. The simple fact...and I don't have any problem calling this a fact...is that there are just too many rappers. Being a lifelong fan of rappers, and a weirdo completionist to boot, this little fact really frustrates the shit out of me. But still, I plow ahead, doing my best to rack up as much of it as I can.
While the primary purpose of this column will be to shed some light on mixtapes and other notable releases that fall outside the realm of typical full-length albums, admittedly it's also going to be a way for me to keep track of all the rediculous rap music I mess with throughout the year. So from time to time I may also address some key singles, videos and other hip-hop odds ‘n’ ends that are worth a mention. Full-length hip-hop album reviews will continue to be posted in our reviews section alongside all the numerous other musical avenues that we here at Scene Point Blank cover.
Even though I was able to narrow down a list of 20 for our year-end feature, there are still a number of good tapes that didn’t make the list, simply because I could not find the time to listen to them and/or they were released right at the end of the year. In the Late Slip department…
Meyhem Lauren – Mandatory Brunch Meetings
In December, only a few months after dropping the Respect the Fly Shit mixtape, Meyhem Lauren released another stellar free download, the awesomely-titled Mandatory Brunch Meetings. Meyhem, alongside Action Bronson, Roc Marciano and Joey Bada$$ has positioned himself at the epicenter of the current NYC boom-bap revival. His rhymes are filled with advisory street stories and complimented by an apropos selection of beats. Up ‘n’ comers Tommy Mas, Harry Fraud and Mike Finito contributed tracks, as did veteran Alchemist, but the majority of the production was handled by ATG. The J-Love-laced “Beautiful Areolas” is one of the tape's strangest songs. Meyhem gives his misogynistic tale an oddly-sweet spin thanks in part to his tender-voiced hook, “She had beautiful areolas.”
Pro Era – PEEP: the aPROcalypse
Although this is a posse outing, it’s also more or less the third Joey Bada$$ tape, following 1999 and Rejex, of 2012. Unfortunately Capital Steez, who was poised to be the Earl to Joey’s Tyler, passed away just three days after the release of PEEP at the tender age of 19. So not only is this the last we will hear of Steez, it’s also the first time, aside from a posse cut on 1999, that we get a really good look at what Pro Era is capable of as a crew. Chuck Strangers, Cj Fly, Kirk Knight, A La Soul, Dessy Hinds, Dirty Sanchez, Deymond Lewis, Nyck Caution, Kwon, and Rokamouth aren’t so much paying homage to Golden Era NYC boom-bap, as they are completely aping it. The results are phenominal. Espceially considering these kids were toddlers when Biggie, Wu-Tang and Nas were the in their prime. While Joey shines brightest, the aPROcalypse proves that he’s not Pro Era’s only star.
Raider Klan – Black Money World Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
In response to his rival A$AP Rocky releasing the A$AP Mob crew tape, Lord$ Never Worry, SpaceGhostPurrp amassed a gigantic collection of songs culled from Black Raider Klan’s back catalogue and put it out as Black Money World Greatest Hits, Vol. 1. Not sure how Mike Ness feels about them appropriating Social Distortion’s signature skeleton character for the cover, but it’s not the first time rappers have blatantly borrowed imagery from punk rock. The Misfits logo comes to mind. Anyway, it goes without saying that at 47 goddamn songs this tape is way too freaking long. You’d lose a year of your life listening to this thing in its entirety. But if you break it up into four different sections, it’s a great representation of SPG’s prowess as a producer—Southern-leaning, ‘90s style gangsta-ass shit—and an excellent starting point for anyone not familiar with the man or, ah, the klan.
Smoke DZA – K.O.N.Y.
While 2012 saw Harlem’s Smoke DZA release a full-length album, Rugby Thompson, and an excellent EP, Cuz I Felt Like It, arguably his best work came at the end of the year with the K.O.N.Y. tape. With a bevy of guests in tow—A$AP Twelvy, Ab-soul, Big K.R.I.T., and Fat Trel among them—the Kush God rhymes over beats from the likes of Harry Fraud, Lee Bannon and Ski Beatz. The tape’s standout track is the Joey Bada$$ feature “Gotham Fuckin’ City”, which also happens to be laced with a previously-unreleased J.Dilla beat.
On top of all the stuff that arrived late last year, there is also an equal amount of material that dropped in the first weeks of the New Year. Most of which, I have not yet fully processed. In the New Stuff I'm Still Mulling Over department…
I’m not totally sold on Casey Veggies’ Life Changes, Gunplay’s Cops & Robbers, or Pusha T’s Wrath of Caine just yet. And I haven’t even gotten to listen to SpaceGhostPurrp’s B.M.W. EP either…but I can tell you by looking at it, that at 11 songs, it’s not a fucking EP! Rappers, I tell ya. I am however, pleasantly surprised by and completely feeling the Underachievers’ Indigoism. I will tackle all of these next time around.
In the meantime here are some songs you should listen to…
Quelle Chris – “Rappin’ Ass”
This is the Detroit emcee's new track from Mello Music Group’s 7” series. It features Denmark Vessey and was produced by House Shoes. “Rappin’-ass (rappers) always tryna rap.” Yeah, aint that the truth. Too many of 'em too, if you ask me.
Joey Bada$$ & DJ Premier – “Unorthodox”
Joey Bada$$ teams up with DJ Premier for this single on Mountain Dew’s Green Label Sound. The ironic thing here is there is nothing unorthodox about this East Coast pairing whatsoever. And that’s also what makes it so awesome.
Karriem Riggins – “Matador Posse Cut”
This is from Karriem Riggins’ Stones Throw album Alone Together. It features new verses by Krondon, Homeboy Sandman, Guilty Simpson and Jonwayne; and cuts by J Rocc. Like most things Krondon or Guilty Simpson are on, it's quite exceptional.
Gensu Dean & Planet Asia – “Faces on the Dollar”
This is a track from beatsmith Gensu Dean and emcee Planet Asia’s upcoming collaborative album. Abrasions will come out on Mello Music Group later this year. MMG has a knack for pairing the right producers and emcees up with favorable results (see: Apollo Brown & OC - Trophies and Guilty Simpson & Apollo Brown - Dice Game) and judging by this, Gensu & Asia looks to be no different.
In the Other Stuff department....
Check out Luke Sick's Bay Area zine, Let's Side. It's two issues deep, with a third on the way. Aside from the hip-hop stuff, there's also articles on black metal and Mexican horse thieves, as well as graffiti flicks. It's done in the classic scissors /glue stick / Xerox style, and only costs $2. Order yours here.
Well that's it for now. Look for a full-length review of Inspectah Deck and 7L & Esoteric's collabo album, Czarface coming soon. As well, I may attack Oh No's Disrupted Ads, but don't hold your breath. I mean, come on, there's just too many rappers.