Black Soprano Family Records – “Long Live DJ Shay” review

This is the 2nd showcase compilation from Buffalo independent hip hop label Black Soprano Family Records. Founded in 2016 by Benny the Butcher of Griselda fame, the roster has significantly grown throughout the years with the likes of Duffel Bag Hottie to Rick Hyde & even battle rap icon RJ Payne. The label has maintained a distribution deal with MNRK Music Group since everything was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic a couple summers back & put out an eponymous debut EP hosted by DJ Drama not too long after, but is following it up in the form of Long Live DJ Shay.

The intro kicks it all off with a sinister boom bap instrumental from the late DJ Shay himself & Fuego Base popping in during the last minute or so after a spoken word piece from Westside Gunn going at B$F’s opposition whereas “Shay Face” by Benny & Rick Hyde works in some piano chords to remind everyone of their authenticity. “297 Parkside” by Elcamino, Rick & Stove God Cook$ brings a high-pitched sample to the fold thanks to Camoflauge Monk paying homage to the titular street in NY prior to “Danger Zone” by Heem, O.T. the Real & Ricky grimly talking about spending many nights in the titular space.

Meanwhile on “Pandemic Flow”, we have Conway the Machine & Cory Gunz accompanying Rick Hyde over some spooky Uncle Al production to brag how crazy they go leading into the Heem solo cut “Bastard Child” declaring himself as such over a flute-tinged boom bap beat. After the “Sit Down with Preemo” skit, Benny returns alongside Heem & Ricky for the dusty “Times is Rough” laced by none other than DJ Premier confessing they’re running out of reasons to sympathize just before “Mustachios” by Boldy James, Chase Fetti & Heem brings a guitar & hi-hats into the fold talking about the mafia lifestyles they live.

“Li-Lo” by Elcamino, Krayzie Bone & Loveboat Luciano comes through with a summery love anthem & the song “Bigger B$F” by Armani Caesar, Benny, Heem & Rick following the “Respect to Shay” interlude sees the quartet ruggedly bragging about their increasing profile. The penultimate track “Brody” by Elcamino & Heem has a more soulful tone to it confessing that the streets made them who they are today with “Mr. Pyrex Man” by Benny ending the album with a glistening trap instrumental spitting that hustler shit.

If you enjoyed the self-titled EP that B$F put out a couple years ago, then you’re probably gonna like Long Live DJ Shay even more. The production has improved, everyone on the label roster sounds even hungrier than last time, the features are all well-picked out for a good majority of the album & I think it would all make Shay more than proud.

Score: 3.5/5

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Cappadonna – “3rd Chamber Grail Bars” review

Cappadonna is a 53 year old MC from New York City notable for being a member of the almighty Wu-Tang Clan since the mid/late 90s. His verse on “Winter Warz” is still regarded by many to this day to be one of the greatest verses in hip hop history & as much as I love his criminally underrated solo debut The Pillage, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say with all respect that his solo discography since has been nothing short of inconsistent ranging to be mediocre at best & complete trash at worst. But when it was announced that underground veteran Stu Bangas was going behind the boards for Cappa’s 15th album right here, my expectations for it were very high considering that Stu has been on a ROLL for the past few years now producing projects for the likes of Ill Bill & Recognize Ali only to name a couple.

After the intro, the first song “Bring It Out” sets it all off with some braggadocio on top of some suspenseful boom bap production whereas “Get Lost” takes a more solemn route talking about how the Wu’s the hardest team. After the “Discovery” interlude, Celph Titled tags along for the horn-laced “Toss the Blick” to get on their hardcore shit just before “How We Rolling” dives into more playful turf talking about a fun night out.

Meanwhile on “Continuous Threat”, we have Planet Asia accompanying Cappa over a keyboard-driven boom bap instrumental spitting some lethal battle raps leading into Sick Jacken coming into the picture for the dusty “Everything is Measured” talking about how fly both of them are. The track “No Fake Dreads” following the “Redemption” interlude works in some more horns to get that bread & prior to the outro, the final song “Tryna Survive” with Ill Bill ends the album on an uncanny note talking about life in the projects.

All 3 of the singles that Cappa has dropped throughout the summer had me anticipating 3rd Chamber Grail Bars to be amongst his best solo albums yet & not only did it achieve that status, but it’s also my favorite project to come out of the Wu-Tang Clan anthology this year. Stu Bangas’ production is a breath of fresh air compared to most of Cappa’s output post-The Pillage & lyrically, he reminds everyone exactly who the fuck he is.

Score: 4/5

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Madopelli – “No Bluffin’” review

Madopelli is a California City-based duo consisting of M.A.D. & Ant Dog. The pair have gone on to drop a full-length debut as well as a couple of mixtapes & EPs ever since forming in 2016, with the last being Everybody’s Poison about a year & a half ago at this point. However after signing to Lyrikal Snuff Productionz this past spring, they’re returning with a sophomore effort backed by the Denver horrorcore powerhouse.

The title track is a trap-laced opener talking about buying themselves straps first thing in the morning with a raspy ass hook whereas “Shoot for the Stars” aggressively disses all of those who said they’ll never make it as far as they have with some great back & forth delivery. Lex the Hex Master tags along for the boom bap-laced “Perfect Chaos” talking about being on the roll, but then The Gorefather himself Scum comes into the picture for the haunting “Snuff Anthem” repping their crew.

Meanwhile on “Straight to the Underground”, we have Madopelli confessing the demons inside taking control of them over an atmospheric instrumental just before “Time is Lost” talking about that being the reason why they be looking up to a killa & the sample throughout is incredibly unique to me. “War is Coming” fuses trap with rock for a couple minutes ready for smoke leading into “Time to Ride” works in an organ talking about fucking the game up.

Insane Poetry accompanies the duo for the eldritch “A Killer’s Diary” getting in their wicked shit back prior to the song “Falling Off” has a more fiery flare to it talking about not taking any Ls anytime soon. The stripped back trap banger penultimate track “We Up Next” finds the duo celebrating the fact that it’s all from here & “Mission Complete” brings the organs back for 1 last hurrah talking about being known to rock stages time & time again.

If you haven’t heard these guys by now, then PLEASE give No Bluffin’ a listen because it’s another reminder of the amazing run that LSP’s been having this year. The production that M.A.D. & Tilli Mack cook up together is some of their craziest thus with the lyricism from the duo rightfully sounding ready to take on the world lyrically.

Score: 4/5

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ΠΔV – “Demons Protected by Angels” review

ΠΔV is 32 year old rapper, singer, songwriter & producer from Toronto, Canada who came to my attention in 2016 after signing to The Weeknd’s very own Republic Records imprint X♥O Records & his verse/production on “beibs in the trap” off of Travis Scott’s sophomore effort Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. Even though the first brown boy to get it poppin’ has dropped a total of 3 full-lengths along with a 5 mixtapes & an EP since, I think that it’s been made pretty clear that I personally haven’t been the biggest fan of ΠΔV’s music up to this point. Primarily because of his robotic delivery, insipid lyrics & generic production choices (especially on Reckless & Bad Habits). However I did find the Wheezy-produced Emergency Tsunami to be ΠΔV’s best work to date, albeit not by much. I also think he’s always been a pretty solid producer so when I found out he was gonna return behind the boards for his 4th album over here, it definitely had me intrigued.

“Count on Me” is a psychedelic opener produced by Mike Dean talking about self-trust whereas “Baby” takes a more symphonic route thanks to Boi-1da telling his girl to relax & play her part. Lil Uzi Vert tags along for “Dead Shot” comparing themselves to that of the DC Comics villain of the same name over an uninteresting Pro Logic instrumental, but then Lil Baby & Travis Scott come into the picture for synth-trap hybrid “Never Sleep”laced by Tay Keith talking about building their respective legacies.

Continuing from there with “Last of the Mohicans”, we have ΠΔV over a cloudy beat asking God to protect him & asking why he took Lil Keed this past spring prior to the Future-assisted “1 Time” coming through with an intoxicating Wheezy instrumental talking about smashing bitches. BenjiCold brings a rage vibe to “Demons in My Cup” resolving his problems with lean just before “Playa” with Gunna has a more meditative flare to it boasting.

“Weirdo” shoots for a more woozier aesthetic talking about your favorite rapper winking at him whenever he speaks while “My Dawg” with Lil Durk has an aquatic vibe to the beat discussing loyalty. “Don’t Compare” dives into more heady turf talking about giving his girl the real him while “Interstellar” with Uzi weaves some wailing synths into the fold saying everything they do invasive.

Meanwhile on “Loaded”, ΠΔV jumps over a rich trap beat bragging that all of his pocket have exploded while RealestK gives us the weakest feature on the album on “Lost Me” despite the piano instrumental & themes of betraying one’s trust. “Reset” with Bryson Tiller is of course a decent trap/R&B fusion expressing their desires to start their relationships from scratch while “Mismatch” with the current King of Detroit himself Babyface Ray finds the 2 over dense Wheezy production asking not to be judged for their past.

The song “Wrong Decisions” was another solid choice for a single with it’s cloudy instrumental & it’s subject matter detailing the cons of fame while the penultimate track “Destiny” keeps the spacious beats coming talking about being who he was meant to become. “Ball in Peace” however is maybe the best closing track of a ΠΔV project yet, as it serves as a heart-wrenching tribute to his homie jayxxclusive3 that passed away earlier this year.

Although I’m a little disappointed that it’s not primarily self-produced like he originally said it was gonna be because ΠΔV’s always been a great producer in my eyes, Demons Protected by Angels is a surprisingly decent listen & quite possibly his most consistent body of work thus far. The songwriting is getting better, he sounds less robotic & more human than he did on a lot of his earlier work, the production’s more detailed & almost every feature comes correct also. Fingers-crossed that he’ll continue to improve from here.

Score: 2.5/5

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Yeat – “Lyfë” review

Yeat is a 22 year old rapper from Portland, Oregon who out in 2018 off his debut EP Deep Blue $trips. This was followed up with 2 mixtapes & 3 more EPs, but he began dominating the mainstream in 2021 whether it be him dropping a total of 4 projects (2 mixtapes, an EP & a full-length debut) or cosigns from the likes of Drake & Earl Sweatshirt. He just dropped his sophomore effort albeit major label debut 2 Alivë under Geffen Records during the first quarter of 2022 & is commemorating the 1-year anniversary of Up 2 Më this weekend by dropping his 3rd album following the huge success of “Rich Minion” earlier this summer.

“Flawlëss” is an otherworldly trap opener with Yeat on the hook & a sole Lil Uzi Vert verse boasting their lifestyles whereas “Up off X” dives into rage territory talking about being wide awake at night due to taking ecstasy. “Out thë Way” has a more calmer vibe to it declaring himself to be the baddest, but then “Wat it feel lykë” works in some wailing synths & hi-hats to diss rats.

Meanwhile on “Got it all”, we have Yeat over a bass-line & snares to flex his wealth leading into “Can’t stop it” brings some rock undertones to the beat surprisingly refusing to quit going hard. “Krank” almost has a cinematic quality to the instrumental talking about geekin’ just before “Talk” returns to the hypertrap sound to deliver some braggadocious lyrics.

“Comë on” shoots for a more electronic aesthetic to it going for the necks of his competition while the song “Systëm” has a more darker tone sonically talking about the drugs hitting right. The penultimate track “Holy 1” is a cloudier cut detailing his mob ties & “Killin’ ‘ëm” sends off the album on a wavy yet deadpan note talking about coming from that dirty.

Considering that Geëk Pack was just a decent collection of microwaved 2 Alivë leftovers, I had no doubt that Lyfë was gonna expand on what made the predecessor the fun major label debut it is. Lo & behold, that’s what happened here. It’s refreshing to hear Yeat dabbling with some new sounds than last time & his knack for catchy songwriting remains unmatched.

Score: 3.5/5

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Pi’erre Bourne – “Good Movie” review

This is the 3rd full-length album from South Carolina producer, rapper & engineer Pi’erre Bourne. Becoming one of the most in demand beatsmiths in hip hop today off Playboi Carti’’s “Magnolia”, he’s also made a name for himself on the mic by dropping 9 mixtapes along with a couple EPs & LPs within the last dozen years or so. He just dropped the 5th & final installment of The Life of Pi’erre series last summer & then the TM88-produced Yo88! in the winter, but is coming fresh off the Space Age Pimpin’ collab album with Juicy J by dropping Good Movie.

The first song “Shorty Diary” following the “Opening Scene” intro kicks off the album with some synths & a rattling bass-line detailing a relationship that’s beyond repair & after the “Logline” interlude, “Ex Factor” takes a more calmer route talking about not wanting sloppy seconds. After the “Intro to Love” interlude, “Love Drill” comes through with a catchy yet atmospheric banger confessing that he wants something real whereas “Hop in My Bed” goes into peppier territory talking about a bitch that wants to fall in love with him a little.

“Superstar” works in these incredible string harmonies to tell his girl who she fucking with even though the hook’s trash leading into “Where You Going?” shooting for a moodier aesthetic talking about the love he has with this woman being priceless. “What I Gotta Do” vigorously asks his girl why she likes him to begin with, but then “DJ in the Car” dives into futuristic territory calling his girl a DJ in the Uber.

Don Toliver tags along for the cloudy “Psane” to get raunchy & after the “Kingdom Hall” skit, the actual “Kingdom Hall” song itself has a more sensual vibe to it comparing to his girl popping up at his place to that of a Jehovah’s Witness believer. Also, the guitar near the end was unexpected yet interesting. After the “Witty” skit, “Kevin Heart” brings some delicate synths into the fold talking about putting all his problems in a blunt just before “SossHouse Party” dives into bop turf to rep SossHouse Records.

Meanwhile on “Safe Haven”, we have Pi’erre talking about chilling in his hideout with some rage undertones while “Rounds” jumps on top of an airy backdrop & some finger-snaps to describe a bitch wanting to get fucked up off the alcohol & dropping a corny Star Wars reference during the first verse. “System” weaves some synths along with hi-hats more finger-snaps explaining to his lover that she got a real one with her while Young Nudy comes into the picture for the heavenly-produced “Moving Too Fast” to talk about sex. The title track however was a great choice of a single with it’s up-tempo instrumental & Pi’erre’s with the closer “Heart Say” bringing some unexpected rock undertones to the beat telling his girl to speak from the heart.

As much as I respect Pi’erre for both his talents behind the boards & on the mic, I’m pretty indifferent on Good Movie to be quite honest & would personally prefer Yo88! over this. The production is dope don’t get me wrong on that whatsoever & I’m not against romantic subject matter in hip hop songs in any way shape or form, but it’s so excessive to the point where it gets annoying & at some moments cringey for me personally.

Score: 2.5/5

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LMD – “Flying High” review

LMD is a supergroup from California consisting of LMNO, M.E.D. & Declaime. One of whom initially saw success as a member of the Visionaries & the other 2 being childhood friends/longtime collaborators with Oxnard DJ/producer/emcee Madlib. The trio initially formed in the fall of 2010 but now a little over a decade later, they’re finally coming together for a full-length debut with The Beat Konducta behind the boards from top to bottom.

After the intro, the title track with some upbeat synthesizers & the trio delivering that feel good shit lyrically whereas “Advice” takes a dreamier route instrumentally as they send a heartfelt message about the fucked up music industry. “Pop Fly” is a rugged boom bap infused battle rap cut for all the battle rap heads out there, but then Fly Anakin tags along for the jazzy yet soulful “Kool” boasting how fly they all are.

“The Cypher” has a bit of a Bollywood influence to the beat as LMD giving us a fitting jam for weed smokers like myself & after the first skit, “Super” returns to a more dreamier aesthetic to spit some braggadocio just before the 80-second “Steppers” delivers a groovy dance anthem with some phenomenal back & forth delivery from the trio. The song “Birthday” has a funkier flare to it vividly describing having shitty born days & after the final skit, the penultimate track “High Skates” embraces a more electronic sound encouraging to get the bread. “Duwop” though is a grand closer to the album expressing their passion for music.

Even though the album got pushed back a handful of delays throughout the summer, Flying High was much worth it as a fan of all 3 members of LMD & someone who ranks Madlib as one their top 10 producers of all-time. The Bad Kid himself sticks to his uniquely signature sound behind the boards with LMNO, M.E.D. & Declaime coming through with an interesting chemistry.

Score: 4/5

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Substance810 – “The Monolithic Era” review

Substance810 is an MC/producer from Port Huron, Michigan who came up in ‘06 off his debut The Definition under his original moniker Tekneek. He’s since gone on to build up an impressive catalog for himself whether it be the sequel The Definition Of… or the Hobgoblin-produced The Hanging Gardens & more recently the Chuck Chan-produced Desolate Lands this past spring. But with fall approaching, Substance has decided to recruit JQuest Beatz for his 11th album.

After the “Exordium” intro, the first song “Don’t Bite the Hand” is an eerie opener basically advising to never act ungrateful towards him prior to ethemadassassin & K. Burns tagging along for the dusty “Monolithic” talking about being indivisible. “Triumphant” works in some horns describing his rise to prominence whereas “Ancient Sand” laces an entrancing vocal loop asking if you know the traces that make a man.

Meanwhile on “Cross the Line”, we have P.U.R.E. tagging along to help Substance deliver a seething jab at those who step over their boundaries leading into “Time Zones” returning to the boom bap talking about being in another world. “Flaming Chariots” weaves a flute into the fold explaining that the loudest be the scariest in this battle, but then “Solidarity” with John Creasy, Big Trip & Josiah the Gift comes through with an impassioned Umbrella posse cut.

“Sexxx Pistol” shoots for a more foreboding aesthetic delivering some flawless wordplay using sexual & weapon metaphors while the guitar-laced “Concierge’s in Negril” getting in his storytelling bag about a shorty named Natalie. The song “Foundational” with Allah Supreme & Sunez Allah sees the trio over a rich beat talking about never starving while the penultimate track “Raw Materials” with Body Bag Ben brings back the horns displaying some cutthroat lyricism. “Precious Medals” though is a jazzy yet emotional closer talking about the old days.

Of the 2 albums that Substance has dropped this year, I think The Monolithic Era is a more personal experience than Desolate Lands was back in the spring. He lets the listeners in a journey through his mind as to how he got his name & JQuest Beatz’ sound compliments his lyrical style well in my personal opinion.

Score: 4/5

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Meechy Darko – “Gothic Luxury” review

Meechy Darko is a 32 year old MC & songwriter from Brooklyn, New York who came up as part of the trio Flatbush ZOMBiES with his childhood friends Zombie Juice & Erick the Architect. They would go on to release a couple mixtapes & albums together throughout the previous decade all to critical acclaim, but have been focusing on solo careers since their debut EP now, more than ɘver… came out a couple summers back with Meech being the first up at bat with a full-length executive produced by Dot da Genius.

After the morbid “Genesis” intro, the first song “Cursed” with Kirk Knight sets off the album with some string sections talking about having their eyes wide open until they see $100M whereas “Never Forgettin’” dives into trap turf thanks to Dot himself calling this his destiny. “K.U.A. (Kill Us All)” is an uncanny yet genuinely livid shot at systematic racism just before “LAVÏ$H HABiTS (Gothika)” works in slowed down vocal sample courtesy of Denzel Curry talking about tripping on psilocybin.

Meanwhile on “Get Lit or Die Tryin’”, we have Meechy wickedly declaring that he ain’t just anybody leading into Freddie Gibbs tagging along for the piano-laced “On God” featuring co-production from Jay Versace talking about dying twice throughout his life. Black Thought comes into the picture for “The MoMA” to talk about being birthed at The Museum of Modern Art over a cold instrumental, but then “Prada U” throws some organs into the mix rightfully calling himself a rockstar.

“What If?” is a downtrodden trap cut asking about all these hypothetical scenarios while the song “Hennessy & Halos” demonically shows the world what a villain really is. The penultimate track “Lost Souls” with Busta Rhymes & Zel finds the trio over some airy production wanting an explanation from God as to why the real ones die & “BLK Magîc” is a piano/guitar-driven closer letting the listeners know such when they hear it.

People have been screaming for a Meechy solo album for the last 4-years & now that we finally got what we wanted, it’s a pretty interesting body of work & is most certainly worth the listen for any Flatbush fan. He’s more honest & cathartic on his own & the sounds that Dot da Genius helps bring to the table are a respectfully nice change of pace compared to Erick the Architect’s.

Score: 3.5/5

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Meyhem Lauren – “Black Vladimir” review

This is the 5th full-length album from Queens emcee Meyhem Lauren. Coming up as the leader of the Smart Crew graffiti team. He eventually started rapping in the mid-2000s, it wouldn’t be until the 2010s decade that he saw success. Most notably with Mandatory Brunch Meetings, the Buckwild produced Silk Pyramids, Piatto D’oro & of course the DJ Muggs produced Gems from the Equinox. Last we heard from him was Juneteenth 2020 when he dropped the Harry Fraud-produced Glass 2 & is now enlisting Daringer for Black Vladimir.

“Black Pinot” opens up the album with some dusty drums & plinky keys as Meyhem & Action Bronsoncharismatically flexing how smooth they both are whereas “Broken Rubberbands” keeps the piano boom bap vibes going talking about moving weight. “Airplane Mode” grimly detests those who claim to be on the same page leading into the dramatic “Conflict Resolution” talking about cops ducking the feds.

Meanwhile on “Red Pesto”, we have Conway the Machine tagging along over some eerie boom bap production addressing self-trust just before “Valedictorians” comes through with a rugged ode to Queens. “Chicken Chinese” takes it back to the basement talking about how his boys had the weight & everyone else has to wait, but then “Nigerian Vegetables” brings some organs to the fold to brag that he moves officially.

Westside Gunn comes into the picture for “Trigger Point Therapy” works in a glistening boom bap instrumental about how “good crack come back like the #9” prior to switching into the “Eric B.” beat off my favorite HWHmixtape Hitler Wears Hermes II for the final verse. “Raspberry Crush” has this incredibly ghostly sample through as Meyhem & Hologram deliver some battle taps while “Lavish Vision” has a more demented sound to it belittling a rival block.

Continuing from there, “Oversized Luggage” with Elcamino throws some strings into the fold talking about how they still wildin’ while the song “Top Grain Leather” with Flee Lord shoots for a classier aesthetic to rep for the real ones. The penultimate “G Talk” is a jazzy ode to street terminology & “Ridin’ Dirty” ends the album with a vocal loop with the title saying it all as far as subject matter goes.

Coming from someone who’s been listening to this dude since high school, he just gave us one of his best albums of his career with Black Vladimir. Daringer’s signature style production goes hand-in-hand with the gritty gangsta rap that Meyhem & all the features vividly paint in their own ways.

Score: 4.5/5

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