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dope of the month club :: april fuels

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This month a bunch of veteran MCs dropped some growly-growling mass extinction bars...the direct descendants making good on Jeru's 'You Can't Stop The Prophet.'  Analog souls with zinc-plated connections.  More likely to toss a Molotov than snap a selfie.  Dead city radio broadcasting from 24 hour bodegas in quarantine zones.  "There are men of letters & then there are men of militarized letters..peace to Rammellzee."

True story: when I was a dumb youth, there were two 12" records where on first listen I couldn't figure out if they were 33 or 45rpm and kept flipping the switch because they sounded mad fucked up either way.  One was the Bring The Noise and the other was Swans' Cop.  These gods put those records on the one & two at both speeds and cut 'em up like Grandmaster Gysin.

Fam. The cops think every day is Purge Day. The water out the tap is poison. The World-Eater himself, Galactus Toupee, is on point to be the next president. Somebody blew up Amerikkka? Coulda been these cats.


Once upon a time not long ago, when people wore backpacks and dial-up modems were slow, the N.W.A. of the Rawkus era was Company Flow.  These days El-P is doing his Rap Van Halen thing, and Mr Len is doing...whatever it is he does.  

Bigg Jus was straight up CoFlow's MC Ren, and seems to spend more time on his puzzling Tumblr than blessing the mic.  In the '00s it feels like Justoleum's been reclusive and radio-silent, but between 3 solo LPs and the two Nephlim Modulation System joints, he's dropped precision munitions not clusterbombs.  It's been four years since Machines That Make Civilization Fun, but I have it from the man himself that this joint is just the first knife out the drawer--a Kingspitter EP and third NMS LP dropping this year. Prepare yourselves.  You need a record cut, you call the record cutter.
 

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Another mic-wrecker from the Def Jux camp with a staccato flow and rhymes like depleted uranium rounds--dense, radioactive and deployed in dubious war zones.  Lif's first solo LP in seven years kicks off with two tracks of rapid-fire, storytelling heat on some 'Shakey Dog'/'Know The Ledge' type shit.  The rest of the record's got him hanging with old homeboys like Del, Edan and the Perceptionists and showing off some surprisingly lighter, positive and optimistic joints--fair enough for a comeback I guess, and the closer 'Don't Look Down' is literally transcendent.  Put it between Scarface's 'I'm Dead' and Killah Priest's 'Almost There' on your Preparation For The Next Life mixtape.

His I Phantom's finally got a re-release: remember this one?  The whole-concept LP about a struggling MC (a la Prince Among Thieves) that ends with nuclear war (a la no other concept album unless it's supposed to be a rap prequel to 2112)?  Yeah, that one.  Cop both and look out for that Emergency Rations too.


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Couple things I never can understand.  First, why do rappers have such unbelievably shitty, cheesy bad taste in rock music?  It's the 94th Element of Hip Hop or something.  Premier will sample the soundtrack from a 1924 silent movie, Puffy will sample 'Carmina Burana,' but when it comes to anything with guitars we get...'Walk This Way?' And the Judgement. Night. Soundtrack.  I never understood this.  All that cratedigging, you cats never once picked up a Minor Threat record?  Bambaataa made a record with Johnny Rotten and nobody ever sampled the Sex Pistols?  My Make-A-Wish Foundation was always that that one time Chuck D ad libbed on a Sonic Youth joint had become a whole collabo LP.  A lot of people listened to Godspeed You! Black Emperor and thought, I should start a band. I listened to them and thought, somebody should rap over this.

This is the other thing I don't understand: why don't dälek get their props as underground legends?  I mean, everyone got all amped about Death Grips and I was all, this is just Shouty Dälek, y'all into this but you ain't down with Gutter Tactics?  I figured, well, their shit is too dense and deep, heads will catch up.  Maybe it's the umlaut or the spelled-dälek-but-pronounced-'dialect'?  I don't know.  You cats like your clipping. and BLACKIE and all that and you still don't ride for dälek?  And kids who're into My Bloody Valentine wanna hear them sing about...whatever it is they're singing about, sexy girls with dirty feet and cigarette breath?--not the broken-glass-everywhere-people-pissing-on-the-station rhymes, I guess.

Catch. The fuck. Up.

From 1998's Negro Necro Nekros on, dälek took the multi-layered density of the Bomb Squad and swapped out James Brown samples for Einstürzende Neubauten.  They kept Chuck D's political intensity and lyrical density but deepened it, broke it like bottles and pushed it into a Liam-Neeson-right-before-he-fucks-your-shit-up growl.  This was all the angry noise of contemporaries Jedi Mind Tricks but without the WWE theatrics, and all the orbital uplift of Daydream Nation--God in the whirlwind. 

dälek were mainlining in the cold vein three years before oxes went cannibal.  Over the years they lost Oktopus and still (peep that solo instrumental joint though--broken concrete beats), and the new joint takes on Mikey Manteca and DJ rEk for some boardwork that's John Cage's broken abacus run through Lee Ranaldo's entire effects pedal collection. Asphalt definitely still merks the murk and stretches long gobs of hellfire drone, but gets more melodic/indie rock on '6dB.'  But it's still on the strength, filthy tongues speaking abandoned language.


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I been fucking with Elucid for about five years, and his newest really takes it to a new level of artistry, mastery and cohesion. (But you should still cop Super Chocolate Black Simian, Cult Favorite and Concrete Sound System on top of Armand Hammer).  Elucid's the next generation of Growl Rap with a voice like Rap Nick Nolte--specifically, that time he voiced the angel-turned-rockpile who was Noah's mans and them.  Prone to wrap your head in knots round those Boo-yaa-Baraka lyrics. And I heard your 'Society Is A Hole' sample up in the back of that bebop-for-bboys 'Son Still Shine' joint, son. I heard that.

These two joints--the 16 minute opus EP Osage and the LP Save Yourself--are I think his best work yet. 'Obama Incense' smells like broken promise and 'Cold Again' is on some I've-seen-rivers poetical miracles.  The beats are a diverse but coherent mix jumping from gospel to shoe-trap to Confusion Is Sex steez.  He's breathing ghosts on this one.  It's fractured blues and St. Augustine visions. Sipping on Flint water in ruined tabernacles. Sprinkling baby powder in kicks on power lines.  For real, god took a bag of coal and turned it into gems.  Every cut on these are repping some Jane Jacobs, some Amiri style.  Skinny Luther nailing it up son.

dope of the month club :: march movie madness

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What's that acronym lazy music writers use that's 'for fans of' or 'if you like'? IRYLFOH?  I forget.  But I'm a fucking rap sommelier, so for each of this month's joints, I'm pairing it with what movie you should watch with the sound off.  Like how you pair wine with food? That's a thing fancy people do.

Between courses, amuse the bouche with these. Or these are aperitifs. I don't really know which is which.

DJ Skizz & Milano Constantine :: .38 Snub Nose (Adrian Younge Freestyle) pairs well with the Easy Andy scene in Taxi Driver
Timeless Truth :: The Cold Wave pairs well with The Sopranos' 'Pine Barrens' episode
Tone Tank & Serengeti :: Cop/Boost already pulls together two great James Woods flicks.
Dillon & Paten Locke (feat. Von Pea & Malkovich) :: Bourbon mixes best with Barfly

Main courses:
Basmala :: Reboot pairs well with season one of Battle of the Planets aka Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (It was really called that? Huh.)

DDay One :: Gathered Between pairs well with Dovzhenko's Earth

Elucid :: Osage has a similar palate to Killer of Sheep

NoEmotion GoldMask :: A Freaking American pairs well with Fear of a Black Hat

odd nosdam :: SISTERS pairs well with Luc Besson's Le Dernier Combat

Open Mike Eagle & Paul White :: Hella Personal Film Festival Mike says this goes best with Panic In Needle Park, but I'm thinking maybe Waking Life has more the right cucumber and oak tones.

The Purist & WestSide Gunn :: Roses Are Red...So Is Blood  brings forth hints of The Pawnbroker

Quelle Chris :: Lullabies for the Broken Brain has similar tannins to Fantastic Planet

Saul Williams :: Martyr Loser King is best complemented by 12 Years A Slave played backwards

Spectre :: The Last Shall Be First pairs well with John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars

We Are Not For Them :: Captures, Vol. 1 also pairs well with Ghosts of Mars

You know what, forget all that, all these records go well with Ghosts of Mars.  Pretty much all music does. 

Actually if you don't feel like it, don't listen to any of the records, just go watch Ghosts of Mars. It's probably on TV right now. It's so fucking bad, but I always end up watching it.

dope of the month club :: february 2016

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Not all these jams came out this month, but who the fuck cares? You get the dope delivered straight to your earholes. It's fresh even if it ain't baked today.

Click the song title to peep it.

1) AG Da Coroner (feat. Action Bronson & Roc Marciano) :: Park Avenue

2) Beneficence (feat. Chubb Rock) :: Masters Of The Class

3) Cadalack Ron (RIP), Serpdot & Open Mike Eagle :: Ravenous v1.0

4) Defcee :: Forty II

5) Guilty Simpson :: Testify

6) Killah Priest & 4th Disciple :: Sativa

7) Jumbled & Bito :: Mental Static

8) The Quantum :: Busy Minds

9) SHIRT :: Poor People's March

10) Zilla Rocca & Small Professor :: Sin Will Find You: The Collected Works

mad brick

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Ain't nothin' changed but the weather. Still don't nothin' move but the money. Bae it's cold outside.

Cold world. Cold hearts. Cold cash. Tell me about it. Sometimes I think I'm getting a little frosty myself.

The hawk is out. Mad brick, son.

10 Bricks - Raekwon, Cappadonna & Ghostface Killah / Money - Guilty Simpson / Bring 'Em Up Dead - Joell Ortiz & Statik Selektah / Survived Winter - B. Dolan (feat. Prolyphic, Alias & Sage Francis) / Gremlins - Danny Brown / Bloody Money (Zilla Rocca Remix) - Capone-N-Noreaga / F.U.B.U. - Armand Hammer / Snow (Uncommon Nasa Remix) - Roc Marciano (feat. Sean Price) / 2 Wrongs - Onyx / All Season - SHIRT / Alligator - Action Bronson / Cold World - P Brothers (feat. Boss Money) / Fur Coat - Mix Master Mike / Lonely & Cold - Roc Marciano / Flurry - Ratking / …down 155th in the MCM Snorkel - Shabazz Palaces / CV-1 - Cannibal Ox x 3:33 vs. Snow - Roc Marciano (feat. Sean Price) / Vein (Instrumental) - El-P / Cold Facts - Ka / Winds From The North - Oddisee / Winter In Manhattan - Deepspace5

dope of the month club :: steel tipped dove

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New beat tape by the maestro Steel Tipped Dove...the homie's been around for a while, producing beats for PremRock, Armand Hammer, the Das Racist guys, YC The Cynic, Tone Tank, Open Mike Eagle, SHIRT and other illustrious underground MCs I fuck with heavy.

The style is heavy on expanded sound, TV-static skies, 3am realizations about the Ten Thousand Things, that dream where the stairs were red and squishy and squirting water, and that joke about punching the guy whose face is made of cookie dough.  That is, it's not thumb-heavy boom bap, it's not block-rockin' beats, it's how we do in these Roy Batty baby years.

Cop the new beat tape here, and argue about in on your favorite internets.

(Steady blogging on new content/releases usually isn't my bag, but what the fuck, let's try it out.)

Albums of the Year, MMXV

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As much as To Pimp A Butterfly didn't really interest me that much--it's not as complex or artistic as people think if you listen to a lot of complex and artistic rap music--it's great to see an ambitious and socially conscious rap record at the top of so many year-end lists instead of, you know, Drake.  Also I know a lotta cats were feeling Vince Staples, but I rep Office Max so that one didn't really do it for me either.

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Ka & Preservation :: Days With Dr. Yen Lo

I been rocking with Ka since Grief, and this is the latest capstone on the temple.  Bringing behind the boards the legendary Preservation instead of his own beats, it's got a classic sound that again eschews drums for brushstrokes of jazz, bossa nova, Ali Farka Toure-sounding guitars.  As great as the instrumentals on Grief and Gambit, the soundtrack here is lusher and works more directly in counterpoint to the words. "In these parts, get shot in your heart--it ain't Cupid / One sacred loop, one naked truth, my lane's suited."  Once again I'm fiending for the instrumental LP too. This is Sketches In Spain but not in Spain, Brownsville.  

The record uses The Manchurian Candidate as its jumping off point.  The days move in a haze from Day 0 to Day 1125 in no order.  It's a fever dream, a delirium.  Yen Lo is the mad scientist of the book/movie, but while Ka alludes to indoctrination, brainwashing, cultural hypnosis, programmed violence, and state-sponsored terror, it's a motif but not a concept album.  When you're raised around rage and vengeance / you can change, but in your veins remains major remnants.

"I usually don't talk about my art," Ka says, "I just give it to you and you eat it how you eat it." So don't look for literalism.  On previous joints, Ka compressed and twisted whole epics into couplets. Here he's reached a level of abstraction--no logos, no shootouts, bare bones of stories--that he's painting with pointed syllables.  Blood, blood, blood with the pen flow.

The voice is still there, the rasp and the pyramid-stacked syllables and compressed rhymes.  His voice sounds kinda like LL's actually. If LL had early on experienced some great tragedy. Like LL had lost his arm and spent twenty years eating beans out the can.  Ka's often compared to Guru or Rakim, fair cop, but he doesn't have their swagger.  He's the first ego-less MC; no namechecking Buddhist monks, this is true Zen.

Scorcese called the overhead shots in Taxi Driver 'sacramental perspective.'  Ka moves from those down to virtuouso tracking shots through subways and past chainlink into elevators crazy wet with piss. It's an epic of whispered forbearance and suffering. I need more prayer to stay out the crosshair.
Of all the elaborate rituals performed at ancient Egyptian funerals, the most important was the Opening of the Mouth.  Symbolically cutting open the corpse's mouth.  It enabled the dead to pass into the afterlife seeing, hearing and breathing, and able to eat to sustain the Ka--the vital spark. That part of the soul that distinguishes the living from the dead.  You here in the spirit? You only brung flesh / I keep it primal 'til it's final, who wanna come test? / I use a mic device to give a slice of life...


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Ratking :: 700 Fill

Like I said last year, Ratking is the freshest shit out there right now. Their music pulses with the pure vibrancy of youth, something unusual in rap's sphere of street weariness and wary posturing.  And somehow they create a bridge from hip-hop's solidly NY past to its global future...you could poplock on cardboard to 'Steep Tech' or you could make it rain bitcoins in that Blade Runner club with the robot stripper with the robot snake.  'Makeitwork' would rock the Wild Style bandshell or a Panther Moderns oculus rave.

I don't really get these cats saying Ratking is reviving the '90s.  Nobody made icy, translucent beats like this in the '90s.  Aside from the ethereal sense of a wider world from Hyderabad to Rio to Tokyo, there's the compression and re-purposing of trap and grime elements that's transformative and elevating.  It can't be like the '90s when it so firmly sounds like the '10s. It's nostalgic for '90s puffy coats only because global warming's putting New Year's in t-shirts.

The new Wiki solo record, Lil Me, is a pretty great record on some bodega coffee and late night stoop confessions shit. But it doesn't reach the shimmering transcendence of Ratking-proper, the fractured concrete-and-fiber-optics verbal playgrounds.

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SHIRT :: MUSEUM / NIKE ADIDAS RECORDS


Y'all really fucking sleeping on this cat.  SHIRT is the best new rapper hands down in a while.  You gotta dig into his Soundcloudsite, his old Bandcamp and YouTube to find the gems, but they're diamonds as big as the Ritz.  There's something in the water in Queens that just springs forth the best goddamn rappers.

SHIRT brings hard-spitting sandpaper flow and a hunger for the mic that's compelling--it's heart, it's raw ambition, it's ego triumphant ripping through the speakers. He jacks beats with and without producer's consent and he's got a great ear--in fact I like those joints more than his RAP MONEY EP where he actually had producer and studio time.  Struggle and underground suits his style.

Then there's the art. He throws up his dot-Mickey in Brownsville.  He jacks Philip Petit. He quotes Brion Gysin: 'Writing is 50 years behind painting.' Gysin meant collage and abstraction.  Burroughs flipped that in 1959 with cut-ups. But music was 20 years behind writing until '79 when Herc stepped on the scene.

But SHIRT doesn't actually rhyme hardly about art; there's the odd reference to Guggenheim grants or 'Top of the Whitney.'  He raps pretty much about...rap shit.  Polo robes and fly whips, Timbs and herb. It's all good.

I'll wait for 'the modern art rapper,' who drops bars like 'Coke so white, Robert Ryman' or 'Box in hand like my name was Cornell' or 'Dick hard as a Richard Serra / bitch reconsidered her perception of public space' and finally lets me know what rhymes with Kandinsky.  SHIRT is not that rapper, I don't think. Maybe he will be. Maybe we don't need that rapper though. SHIRT's too real to get pretentious, too much doing his own thing.  

Thing is, when he did drop "THEORY"--spitting Kenneth Goldsmith--it doesn't quite work as well as, say "NY TAP WATER." Maybe because it's Goldsmith's theories and not SHIRT's. Maybe because I'm on the fence whether Goldsmith's repurposing of texts as his own art is brilliant or bullshit.  It's interesting, but it's not engaging, aesthetically crafted, honest, raw or heartfelt--all of which are exactly what I love about SHIRT's shit. It's got heart.

On the flipside, he's bringing in the yacht-level swagger of Koons and the gangsta threats of Dada.  He knows about art as repurposing, art as re-appropriation, art as statement--what the fuck you think rap music is?  Jenny Holzer is just Chuck D on postcards and Richard Prince is just Puffy on Wooster Street.  

So there's those who say SHIRT is trolling with his Nike/Adidas shirts, $250 Soundcloud campaignshirtfuckedrihanna and fake NY Times article. Word to COST Fucked Madonna. Word to Fluxus. Word to art concrete for the internet age. If you do it downtown it's art and if you do it in Queens it's the thirst of a struggle rapper? Fuck outta here son.

Look peoples, SHIRT is too hungry to fizz out.  Pay attention and get with him before you gotta pay Sotheby's prices. This king was raised to go for the crown. He's standing on top of the Whitney watching for the blimp that says BE FEARFUL OF MEDIOCRITY. Get with the kid. I think it's time, I think it's time.

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milo :: So The Flies Don't Come

milo closed out last year with the fuck-around-in-the-studio, freestyle-and-bandcamp (Boyle) and Piles mixtape, then shot back again in May in his scallops hotel alter ego for Plain Speaking. To be honest that one had me go ruh-oh...the raps were pretty much on point as always, but the Casio clock radio beats made me worry milo was about to just keep hoeing the row he's dug, slowly devolve into a jokey-profound, campus touring, Portlandia guest star, Rap Game Trader Joe's Maple Syrup Popcorn.

Come September, he dropped the Kenny Segal laced Flies, and cue worldwide acclaim.  Milo's not gonna tread water. He pushed himself forward stylistically, lyrically and musically here, asking more questions than he can answer and creating another journal for the bibliography.  The lyrics are still well-compressed and laced with references to Camus and the Hagakure and the Voynich Manuscript and Tekken and stuff like that. But there's also a barely-suppressed anger and reconsideration of milo's place in rap and maybe in Amerikkka in general.

He's still doing his own thing like no one else's thing.  Splitting the difference between the Golden Rectangle and 3/5ths of a man and Schopenhauer's maxim that we forfeit 3/4s of ourselves to be like other people.  He's still running the math.


Honorable Mention
Earl Sweatshirt :: I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside
The album was OK, but the title completely describes my life, so it gets props for that.

mouths of madness

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Best of 2015, Part 2: Art Rap Underground & Outer Space Type Shit Edition

Dial In (Get Ya Own) - Black-Tokyo Musik / Iron Rose - Cannibal Ox (feat. DOOM) / Mutate - ialive (feat. Mr. Lif) / Danger - Mr. Moods / Hook Fish Sheep - C.S.X.T.C. / Vietnam Sports Coat - PremRock / Having Too Good of a Time - Uncommon Nasa (feat. Black-Tokyo Musik & Carl Kavorkian) / Chopa Sidi - Basmala / Sleep - billy woods / Steep Tech - Ratking (feat. Despot & Princess Nokia) / Galapaghost - Juan Deuce & Falside / Typecast - Cavanaugh (Open Mike Eagle & Serengeti) (feat. P.O.S., Hemlock Ernst & Busdriver) / Return of the Angst - Words Hurts (feat. Zilla Rocca) / Santeria - Kool A.D. / Arrows - Homeboy Sandman / An Encyclopedia - milo / Brooklyn Freestyle - Russ / Day 1125 - Dr. Yen Lo / Quantum Spirit of Creation - Killah Priest / No Records Sold - SHIRT

Nine Best Indie Underground Albums of the Year
Dolan came back from a long hiatus with two records that stormed the bunkers, overthrew the moneychangers' tables and generally knocked fools' fucking heads together.

billy woods :: Today I Wrote Nothing
woods has been on my year-end lists every year since I started 'em in 2009, and good to see him getting some shine on a lotta others' this time round.  His output's been prodigious lately with no let up in quality.  With most songs clocking in well shy of three minutes, there's a sense of notebook pages or short poems (the impressionistic 'Woodhull' sketch of Bed Stuy healthcare) instead of the novels of previous, but the references still dig deep.

Cornel West Theory :: Coming From The Bottom
Boasting guest-drop cosigns from Chuck D, Mumia, MOVE and others, CWT brings back the uncompromising bombastic political sound of P.E. and X-Clan with loud, gravy-thick beats.

C.S.X.T.C. :: C.S.X.T.C.
After a long hiatus, Raven from Solaris Earth Pipeline drops this solo dojo of hobo rap.

Jel :: Greenball 6
Another dope instrumental LP from the Anticon sphere. Fatter beats than you'd expect, for reals.

Killah Priest :: Planet of the Gods
My faith in the Priest is resolute and unquestionable, but since Heavy Mental he's rarely able to find the beats to rock upon which to found that church.  On this one though he brought down Godz Wrath to provide the right 70mm backdrop of flutes and chants and samples--finally befitting his epic of Mac 10s, sandals, eagles, pyramids, flying saucers, wise elders, Biblical computers, convicts, evil ancient scientists, galactic thrones and chakra points, and that's just the intro track.

PremRock :: Who Art In Nada
Rap bohemian remixes and offcuts, straight from foggy bridges, greasy spoons and dive bars.

Uncommon Nasa :: Halfway
Nasa's newest ruminates on what it means to be halfway through your life--what matters, where you come from and where you're going. You gotta admire the man's grind and how he pushes himself into new territory with every record.

Words Hurts :: ALKAST:REMIXES
Remix EP that was as good as the originals. On point heaters. Go grab that.

Honorable Mention in the Form of a Rhetorical Question Running Along the Bottom of the Album Cover
Public Enemy :: Man Plans God Laughs
Look peoples, I was born listening to P.E. and I'll die listening to P.E. I always check their new shit, and their 13th is pretty good for late-epoch-Chuck et al., even if it has a Country & Western joint for no reason I can possibly think of.

Honorable Mention for Records I Didn't Get a Chance to Listen to Yet But Are Probably Dope, Maybe That's Cheating But Too Fucking Bad
Defcee :: Damn Near Grown
Red Pill :: Day Drunk EP

the usual roughnecks

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It's your Best of 2015 Roundup, Rappitty-Rap Rapping edition. Just the bangingest bangers and the hottest heaters and the tastiest joints.


Blacka - Blackalicious / World Premier - Czarface (feat. Large Professor) / Man Plans God Laughs - Public Enemy / Razor Blade Rhyme - A-F-R-O / The History of Atlantis - B. Dolan / Fractured - Guilty Simpson (feat. Fat Ray) / Organ Donor - SHIRT / Garbanzo Beans/4 No Reason - Sean Price / Rubble Kings (Dynamite On The Street) - Run The Jewels / Paris Texas - Jel & Odd Nosdam / Yesman Shit - Apollo Brown (feat. Sean Price & REKS) / Unlimited Metro Card - Your Old Droog & Statik Selektah / Falconry - Action Bronson (feat. Meyhem Lauren & Big Body Bes) / Bodega! - Bodega Bamz & Statik Selektah / Dooo It! (Remix) - R.A. The Rugged Man / Hell's Messenger - Jedi Mind Tricks / I'll Die For This Shit - The Cornel West Theory (feat. Queen Helene of Les Nubians) / Kirk Fuckin' Douglas - The Alchemist

The Six Best Rappitty-Rapping Records of the Year*
Guilty Simpson :: Detroit's Son
Can't get enough of the D's sharpest hattori hanzo, and don't understand why this record hasn't been on anyone else's lists this year.  It's his hardest, sharpest, meanest, illest, blessedest work to date, more on point than a box of needles.  An all-around 7th place for album of the year. 

Sean Price :: Songs In The Key of Price / About 85,000 Guest Verses
My favorite actors have always been character actors--the guys who come in as weird sidekicks, creep-ass villains, but always make their mark.  This record ain't here because we lost him, it's because it's a damn fine record.  P was one of the greats and most definitely gone too soon.  He was a rapper's rapper who never turned down a guest verse but always brought his A-game to it, endlessly quotable, with more punchlines than Nintendo's unreleased Mike Tyson: Punch Factory. He got stoopid without ever being ignorant--he slips in more political lines than he gets credit for.  P! was the illest of the usual roughnecks.

Inspectah Deck, 7L and Esoteric came back to body you on this one, bringing along Meth, DOOM, GZA, Large Pro and other thugs. Just a good, solid album for all your head-nodding, mad-face-making needs.

Action Bronson :: Mr. Wonderful 
The second most notorious Albanian in the tri-state area comes through again. Like every Bronson record, it's hit and miss on the beat choices, but also solid as his massive gut when he does hit it. Dude has cemented his career, and I now can't see any haute cuisine reference like 'scrape a ravioli envelope' or 'venison au jus reduction' without thinking 'I wonder how Action Bronson would rhyme that into a deviant sexual act?'

Jedi Mind Tricks :: The Thief & The Fallen
If you were ever down with JMT, this is their comeback from Stoupe forgetting how to make beats. Just forget the last 10 or so years happened. If you like that 'Cypress Hill, but with more beheadings' sound, this one's for you.

Your Old Droog :: Kinison EP
I kinda think I'm over this dude. He's definitely nice with the rhyming of the words, mostly picks good beats, but there's something too...technical? Something missing, I don't know if it's a narrative or sense of character or charisma. I just don't know who the droogie is somehow. I mean, content-wise Redman is not exactly Virginia Woolf,** but you feel like you know the guy, he's that cat you got high with in the parking lot that one time or whatever.  With Droog I don't get that. I like the work but I'm not catching feels from it.  OK not really selling this, but the EP is solid work.


*Fuck arbitrary round numbers and fuck long lists. Like I'm really gonna go peep out all 100 records you recommended. I have five jobs for fuck's sake.
**If Redman is now inspired to do a three-CD Mr Dalloway concept album, come back and thank me.