Hush & Bobby J from Rockaway – “718 II 313” review

This is the brand new collaborative album between Hush & Bobby J from Rockaway. One being a Detroit veteran coming up as 1/2 of Da Ruckus & the other being a Kwamé protege who’s been gaining traction in the underground in recent years. They linked up with each other during the pandemic & are releasing 718 II 313 after 2 years in the making with Hush spitting on every cut as well as producing a good majority of it.

“People” is a rock-influenced opener with Daru Jones on the drums telling the world that they do this rap shit for us whereas “Girls” takes a more soulful route as Paradime accompanies the 2 to talk about how all they see is bitches. Trick-Trick tags along for the disco-infused “Kolm” produced by Maestro Williams of the duo Silent Riot showing their love for the 313 just before “Runnin’” takes a more melodic approach talking about having to get out of this place they’re in mentally.

Meanwhile on “Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”, we have Hush & Bobby over a piano-laced boom bap instrumental as they acknowledge that shit’s been getting crazy out here leading into Ro Spit coming into the picture for the smooth “Livin’ This Lifetime” talking about making this bread together. “The Truest” with Guilty Simpson & Marv Won finds the quartet flexing their lyrical abilities over a spacious beat with Daru back on the drums once more, but then the D.L. Jones-laced “Sometimes” is a compelling Hush solo cut talking about wishing we had more time.

“Let the Opera Sing” shoots for an appropriately operatic sound calling to be shown respect while the rugged “Oh Yeah” with Lil D finds the trio getting in their hardcore bag. The song “Capers” with The Truth brings the guitars back in to talk about getting that bread until they’re gone while the penultimate track “Posse Cut” with Kwamé, Michael Fiya & Quest MCODY is a 4 minute & 20 second barfest with a glossy instrumental. “The End” closes out the album with a love letter to Hush’s career.

These guys invited me to the studio last year so they could play 95% of the album for me as they were putting the final touches onto it & I’m telling y’all that this is one of the best projects that either one of them have made. They bring the best out of each other as far as chemistry goes, it’s incredibly well-produced & the features are all nicely handpicked.

Score: 4.5/5

Scum – “Dyin’ World Chroniclez 2: Red Groundz” review

This is the 13th full-length album from Russian-American horrorcore veteran Scum. Coming up as the founder of the local independent powerhouse Lyrikal Snuff Productionz, the man has literally dropped dozens of projects either on his own or with side projects like M.M.M.F.D. & the 4 Horsemen. Dude just dropped Dyin’ World Chroniclez: Grey Skiez about 5 months ago & after a couple of new singles following that, we’re being treated to the sequel Dyin’ World Chroniclez 2: Red Groundz.

After the intro, the title track works in some violins for him & King Gordy portraying their own versions of Hell whereas “Beyond Comprehension” is a trap banger talking about how his intentions are clear. Smallz 1 tags along to let people know they’ll remain underground on the frosty “My Damnation” just before trapping cats into a “Lion’s Cage” with a demented instrumental.

Meanwhile on “We the Onez”, we have M.M.M.F.D. jumping on top of a skeletal trap beat to talk about parents warning their children of them leading into “Wonder” continuing to delve into that sound except it has more meat on the bone & Scum pondering what’s going through his victim’s mind. “Groundhog (Fri)day(13)” is an aggressive, high-tempo anthem to murder whereas “Intrauterine Cannibalistic” with Hex Rated goes into trap metal territory talking about making cats bleed when they catch ‘em.

The song “Humpty Dumpty” speaks on cracking people’s heads over a nocturnal instrumental while the penultimate track “Keep That Shit” works in some keyboards & hi-hats to admit that he’s sick in the head. Then it rounds out with “Nevaendin’ Story”, which is Scum talking about murder being addictive accompanied by a misty beat.

Scum has been putting it down for the underground wicked shit scene for a very long time at this point & the whole Dyin’ World Chroniclez series that he’s been doing lately turning out pretty hard. In comparison to the previous installment, I think this one sounds darker & rawer in terms of production choices & pen-game.

Score: 3.5/5

Fat Ray – “Santa Barbara” review

Fat Ray is a 39 year old MC from Detroit, Michigan who came up as a member of the trio B.R. Gunna alongside Black Milk & Young RJ. He would eventually go solo in 2008 by dropping the criminally slept-on The Set Up, but it wouldn’t be until a full decade later when it was followed with both The Lunch Room mixtape & then his sophomore effort Perseus. However out of nowhere, Ray has seen fit to drop his 3rd full-length album.

The title track that kicks the album off talks about being happy to be back on his shit over a jazzy boom bap beat from Raphy, who produced all 3 joints on the entire thing. The next song “Flight Risk / Plead the 5th” gets on the gangsta rap tip over an instrumental, that starts off jazzy, but later switches up into a bare soul sample. The track “Menacing” talks about going to war if you want it over a beat that sounds like something RZA would’ve made for Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) while the cleverly-titled “Ethan Hunt” makes references to the Mission: Impossible franchise over a more chilled out instrumental.

The track “Jordan vs. Bird” gets on his mob shit over a boom bap beat with a dark atmosphere to it while the song “Dopeman Heaven” with Danny Brown finds the 2 talking about slanging drugs over a Black Milk instrumental with some downcast keyboard melodies. The track “Old Faithful” with Bruiser Wolf sees the duo talking about being fresh to death over a sleek beat while the song “Top Ramen” talks about not having much coming up over a psychedelic instrumental.

The track “Bar Smithing / Off-Safety” shows off his lyricism & the beat once again has that vintage Wu-Tang feel at the start, but it switches up into something more apprehensive. “The One” talks about how everyone wants to be that guy over a Crisfantom instrumental that’s clearly inspired by the late J Dilla while the penultimate track “The Sword” talks about being the 2nd level of crazy over an otherworldly beat. The album ends with “Mental Case”, where Ray talks about his homie Kutty over some harmonious vocal melodies.

This dude is a true hometown veteran & Santa Barbara is yet another example of that. Raphy’s production is on point & lyrically, he legitimately does continue to be the hungriest MC in the world.

Score: 3.5/5

Various Artists – “Conflicted: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” review

This is a brand new soundtrack album brought to you in part by Buffalo hip hop labels Griselda Records & Black Soprano Family Records. Both of whom have been taking over hip hop with a plethora of high quality albums, EPs & mixtapes since late 2015. They just released their first feature-length film Conflicted this weekend & of course the movie had to be accompanied by songs from or inspired by it.

After the intro, the first song “Mobbin’” finds Benny the Butcher teaming up with Chase Fetti & Heem to talk about just that over a devilish instrumental while the track “Element of Surprise” by Lloyd Banks talks about being mindful of snitches over a supernatural beat. The song “Ain’t Hit Nobody” by Westside Gunn, Flee Lord & Eto sees the trio coming together for the brick buyers over a grim, drumless instrumental from Daringer while the track “Pride” by Ransom triumphantly talks about his success over a soulful beat from the man himself.

The song “Welcome Home DMX” by Dave East & Jonesy finds the 2 comparing themselves to Sam Giancana & John Gotti over a weepy trap instrumental from the late DJ Shay & the 808 Mafia while the track “Squaaaaad” by Elcamino, Rick Hyde & Smoke DZA sees the 3 talking about being baptized by the streets over a victorious beat. The song “3:30 in Houston” by Benny the Butcher addresses being shot a few months back over a despondent instrumental while the track “Voices” by Boldy James, Chase Fetti & Heem finds the trio telling their opposition to run over a bloodcurdling beat.

The song “Rank” by YN Billy gets braggadocious over a mediocre trap instrumental & after the “I’m Not the Enemy” skit, the track “Nerve of You” by Armani Caesar talks about someone doing her dirty over a Camouflage Monk beat with some plinky keys. The song “Conflicted” by Flee Lord talks about the hustler lifestyle over a dreary instrumental from GhostDave while the penultimate track “Mission Accomplished” by Armani Caesar, Benny the Butcher & Westside Gunn sees the 3 talking about turning to the boss life. “The Hurt Business” by Westside Gunn, Smoke DZA & Wale then talks about being the flyest in the game over a thunderous instrumental.

I was curious to hear how this would turn out given how cheesy a lot of soundtrack albums turn out nowadays, but I’m actually pretty impressed with what we got here & it has me even more curious to watch the movie when it comes out next weekend. Much like Griselda’s collective debut W.W.C.D. (What Would Chinegun Do?) that was released under Shady Records a couple years back, everyone involved manages to stay true to themselves & not whip up a focusgrouped product.

Score: 3.5/5

DJ Muggs – “Winter” review

DJ Muggs is a 52 year old producer & DJ from Queens, New York who came up as part of The 7A3 alongside the Bouldin Brothers in the late 80s. The trio only put out 1 album together but as the 90s approached, Muggs started to become a household name in the west coast as the producer for Cypress Hill & the leader of the Soul Assassins. He would go on to release 2 solo albums & with the 8 year anniversary of his previous one Bass for Your Face approaches next month, Muggs is finally delivering a follow-up.

After the “Winter is Here” intro, the first song “Warning Shots” by Boldy James talks about swimming or sinking over a creepy-sounding beat whereas the next track “Olympic Stamps” by Cappadonna talks about how his crew rolls thick comes together over a rowdy instrumental. The song “Japanese Space Program” by RLX talks about wanting all the riches over an operatic beat while the track “Food on My Fork” by Rome Streetz shouts out those who think they can go toe-to-toe with him over a rock-flavored instrumental.

The song “Veneno” by Crimeapple, Eto & Meyhem Lauren sees the 3 talking about that fly shit over a minimalist beat while the penultimate track “Resume” by Hologram talks about how they wanted him dead 10 years ago over a sinister instrumental. The closer “Roll the Credits” by al.divino talks about how listeners already know what the deal is over a cinematic beat whereas the bonus cut “Winter’s Theme in DM” is an instrumental piece that you can just sit back & smoke a bowl to.

As a whole, this album is solid & I would absolutely recommend it if anyone loves Muggs as I do. He could’ve added a few more joints & stretch it out longer than just 25 minutes, but his production is still very much top notch all these decades later & the guest MCs he brings on board come correct for the most part.

Score: 3.5/5

Ketch P – “Untitled” review

Ketch P is a 40 year old MC from Inkster, Michigan who started off as part of the quartet Street Justice. He eventually went solo & put out 3 mixtapes in the late 2000s, but Ketch took a hiatus in 2013 & returned last fall by dropping the fantastic comeback tape Gift Certificate under Middle Finger Music. This was followed up a couple months ago with the full-length Out of Nowhere but almost 3 months later, he’s surprise-dropping an untitled EP that he recorded with Black Milk about a decade ago.

Things start off with “Barricade ’08”, where Ketch spits about being the livest over soulful beat. “The Virus” with Guilty Simpson sees the 2 comparing their music to that of a sickness over a grimy instrumental while the song “Grind Mode” talks about hustling over a suspenseful boom bap beat. The penultimate track “Shut the Phuck Up!!” sends a message to all the haters out there over an instrumental with some beautiful background vocals talks about & then the closer “My Detroit” with eLZhi & Trick-Trick finds the trio paying tribute to their hometown over a churchy beat.

Man even though the material on here is 10 years old, it sounds like they made it earlier this year because these joints in 2020 still sound really good. Black Milk kills it on the boards as he usually does & Ketch P’s lyricism is just as raw as he is today. Looking forward to the albums he has with Bad News Brown & 2 Door Coupé.

Score: 4/5

Blaze Ya Dead Homie – “Cadaver” review

Blaze Ya Dead Homie is a 44 year old MC from Mt. Clemens, Michigan who came up as a part of the duo 2 Krazy Devils. After their demise, Twiztid brought him onto the Insane Clown Posse’s radar in 1998 & signed him to Psychopathic Records. Eventually, his eponymous debut EP in 2000 & his full-length debut 1 Less G n da Hood the following year would both go on to become some of the greatest releases on the label. He would go on to release 3 more albums on Psychopathic before leaving in 2013 to form his own label Grundy Entertainment & join Majik Ninja Entertainment the year after that. Last we heard from Blaze was in 2016 when he dropped The Casket Factory but on the day of 1 Less G’s 19 year anniversary, he’s back with his 7th full-length album.

The opener “I’m a G” talks about being himself over a nocturnal beat from Godsynth & after the “Unplug” skit, the next song “Tore Down” with Monoxide sees the 2 partying over a lively instrumental from Fritz the Cat. The track “They Say” talks about being a killer on the low over a Young Wicked beat that has a creepy atmosphere to it while the song “Be My Guest” takes you through a mausoleum over an instrumental that almost had a bit of a West Coast feel.

The song “Summer Breeze” gets introspective over a uptempo beat & after the “PSA from Ya Dead Homie” skit, the track “Back Window” talks about staying the same over a boom bap beat with some keys. The song “Get It Lit” with Jamie Madrox sees the 2 taking about getting fucked up over a weary instrumental while the track “Watery Grave” talks about sending his haters to Hell over a chilling beat.

The song “I’m Dead” talks about being a renegade over a spacious instrumental with some sick guitar-playing during the hook while the track “Dead Man Boogie” is a Drive-By reunion talking about popping slugs over a vibrant beat with some strings. The song “Let It Out” talks about not wanting poison in his soul over an electronic instrumental while the penultimate song “God Don’t Like Ugly” with Boondox & Lex the Hex Master finds the 3 talking about hateful people over a rap metal beat. Then after the “Cursed” skit, the closer “The Light” talks about being trapped in darkness over an abrasive instrumental.

The Dead Man has never dropped anything that I disliked, so I was very excited going into this new album over here. And at the end, I’m impressed with what I’ve heard & just shows how consistent he’s bene throughout his career. His pen-game‘s still as strong as it is was 20 years ago on his debut EP, the production bangs & the features all come correct as well.

Score: 3.5/5

Atmosphere – “The Day Before Halloween” review

Atmosphere is an highly regarded duo from Minneapolis, Minnesota consisting of producer Ant & emcee Slug. They’ve released a handful of classics through their label Rhymesayers Entertainment including Lucy Ford, You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having, Sad Clown Bad Dub 9 & my personal favorite: God Loves Ugly. But for the past couple years now, Slug & Ant been grinding like crazy by dropping Mi Vida Local in 2018 & then Whenever last winter. They just put out Felt 4 U with MURS over the summer & now a couple months later, Atmosphere is back with their 11th full-length album.

The album starts off with “Where the Road Forks”, where Slug talks about how he knows he doesn’t articulate himself correctly over a synthesizer heavy instrumental. The next song “Space is Safe” addresses someone who thinks he’s suffering from depression over a demented beat while the track “She Loves My Not” talks about a woman who only misses him when she’s drunk over a frightening instrumental. “The New People” talks about someone who doesn’t give him a reason to live over an portentous beat while “The Future is Disgusting” talks about romance over an 80s-style instrumental.

The song “DoubleTown” discusses how everybody knows somebody, but nobody knows anybody over a grim beat while the track “Stardust” tells everyone to stop biting his rap style over a monstrous instrumental. The song “Blotter Acid Reflux Syndrome” talks about having trouble on his mind over a futuristic beat while the penultimate track “Party Crashers” speaks for itself over a synth-funk instrumental. The album finishes off with “Sleep Apnea”, where Slug talks about how he wouldn’t commit to this chick if he could over an eerie beat.

This is almost as enjoyable as Felt 4 U in my personal opinion. Ant’s production is very synth-heavy except with a darker edge to it & Slug’s paints some very dope imagery from start to finish. Can’t wait to hear where they take things going forward.

Score: 3.5/5

Common – “A Beautiful Revolution” review

This is the brand new EP from Chicago veteran Common. Coming up with off his first 3 albums in the 90’s produced entirely by No I.D., he then made his major label debut in 2000 with Like Water for Chocolate & followed up with the experimental Electric Circus in 2002. Then during the mid 2000s, he released a trilogy of albums with Kanye West’s GOOD Music beginning with Be, bridged by Finding Forever & then ending with Universal Mind Control. In the 2010s, we saw Com reuniting with No I.D. on The Dreamer/The Believer & Nobody’s Smiling. However, he started working closely with Karriem Riggins on Black America Again in 2016 as well as Let Love last summer. But with the presidential election coming up next week, Com & Karriem are back with A Beautiful Revolution.

After the intro, the first song “Fallin’” talks about how black people aren’t actually free over a mellow beat whereas the next track “Say Peace” with Black Thought sees the 2 talking about racism over a dub/boom bap fusion. The song “What Do You Say? (Move It Baby)” gets romantic over a funky beat while the track “Courageous” talks about meaning of such over a piano & live drums. The song “A Place in this World” gets optimistic over a luxurious beat while the track “A Riot in My Mind” talks about internal conflict over some live drums & guitars. The before the outro, the final song “Don’t Forget Who You Are” talks about self-worth over a joyous beat.

Personally, I think this is just what we needed to hear in light of the election. Karriem’s production is as beautiful as ever & the commentary that Common makes is very much relevant that what’s been going on all year.

Score: 3.5/5

JL – “The Devil Hates Sundays” review

This is the brand new album from Missouri emcee JL, who started out as a member of the B. Hood crew before signing to Strange Music in 2015. His full-length debut on the label D.I.B.K.I.S. (Do It Big Keep It Strange) that came out a few years ago was a proper introduction to the Strange fanbase & I really liked that Kontra-Band collab effort he did with Stevie Stone in 2018 too. But after teasing new music for quite some time now, JL’s officially back with The Devil Hates Sundays.

After the intro, the first song “Silver” makes numerous references to the titular color over an organ-inflicted boom bap beat from 7 (who produced about half the album) whereas the track “Sunday Morning” with Marley Young finds the 2 comparing them & their significant others to Adam & Eve over a euphoric beat. The song “Means to an End” with Tech N9ne sees both spitters talking about doing anything for better luck over a trap beat with some bells while the track “Ask for It” with LeezoSTG & Maez301 finds the trio talking about giving their significant others anything they want over a rubbery instrumental.

The song “Ahh Haa” talks about being high over a hyphy beat from Wyshmaster while the track “Who Raised You?” talks about how they don’t make ‘em like this over a beat with some bells & a background singer humming. The song “Flashing Out” is filled with clever Hollywood references over a cavernous instrumental from Dominique Sanders while the track “That’s Him” with Joey Cool displays an impeccable chemistry with one another over a monstrous beat.

The song “Sleep on Me” with Krizz Kaliko sees the 2 talking about being underrated over a bleak instrumental while the track “Petty Bop” does a good job of living up to it’s name both lyrically & sonically. The song “Common Sense” talks about him being one of a kind over a cloudy beat while the track “Coming Down” talks about being off of the high over a woodwind-infused beat.

The song “SOS” talks about being too far gone over a dense beat while the track “Voices” with Jehry Robinson sees the 2 talking about the internal conflict within them over a desolate beat. The song “MIA” talks about getting to the money over a woozy instrumental while the track “Moonwalker” links up with Suli4Q & the CES Cru finds the 4 talking about revenge over a somewhat quirky beat.

The song “If I Wasn’t” with Saigon & Starrz finds the 3 painting scenarios of where they’d be if they never made it in the rap game over an intoxicating instrumental while the penultimate track “Bat Shit Crazy” talks about his boo being as wild as him over a sensual beat. The album finishes with “Inner Demons”, where JL apologizes for how he is over an instrumental with some slick guitar-playing.

Overall, I think this is JL’s best work date. There are a couple of features that I personally could’ve done without, but the lyrics on here are at his most introspective with the religious theme only enhancing it & the production fitting each cut like a glove.

Score: 3.5/5