Novatore – “Living in the End Times” review

Novatore is a 34 year old MC from Chicago, Illinois who originally came up as a member of the Infamous Crew. He’s also built up an impressive solo career since 2015 by dropping 4 EPs & 9 albums all in that amount of time, with the previous offering Master of Morbid Creations this past spring. But for his 10th full-length over here, Novatore’s enlisting both Johnny Slash & longtime collaborator C-Lance behind the boards for such a milestone in his ever-growing discography.

“Outlaws of Outer Space” opens up the album with a synth-boom bap hybrid talking about being ready for total war prior to King Magnetic tagging along for “Road Warriors” welcoming you to your only future & the crooning sample throughout is flipped really well. “Audio Assault” ruggedly calls for all his enemies to fall to their knees leading into A.M. Early Morning & Nightwalker coming into the picture for “The Time Has Come” to flex their prowesses & my favorite part about the beat has to be the guitar hands down.

Continuing from there with “Terry Funk Syndrome”, we have Novatore over more synth/boom bap production referring himself to be amongst the dopest out whereas “End Times” is just an instrumental interlude. “The Game is Over” with Benny Holiday & iLL ZakieL finds the trio ruggedly letting everyone know they didn’t come to fuck around while the song “Mass Panic” has a more dustier quality to it talking about how we’ve been a nation of zombies. The penultimate track “Wasteland” with OutcastGawd Lord El sees the pair going back & forth with one another over a pitched-loop until “Class Act” is a piano-laced closer talking about never being afraid to fail.

Although I’d personally say Master of Morbid Creations happens to be the better of the 2 albums that Novatore has dropped throughout 2022, you should be more than satisfied with what we got on Living in the End Times. The features are a little hit or miss, but the production & concept are both as strong enough as the predecessor’s to make me be able to want to listen to it again.

Score: 3.5/5

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C-Lance – “The Undying Flame” review

This is the full-length debut from Boston producer C-Lance. Breaking out in 2010 after becoming an in-house producer for Enemy Soul Entertainment, he would go on to become one of the underground’s most prominent names ranging from the Army of the Pharaohs to Swollen Members. He spent last year dropping a beat tape every single month with each one being composed of samples of music from other countries with summer approaching, C-Lance is at long last unleashing The Undying Flame.

After the intro, “Sons of Godzilla” by Apathy & Celph Titled is an apocalyptic boom bap opener flexing their rapping prowesses whereas “Avocado Money” by Crimeapple & Vinnie Paz works in some vibraphones talking about being in a different ballgame. “Lord of Illusions” by G-Mo Skee & Jarren Benton finds the pair over a melodic vocal sample belittling their competition leading into the piano-laced “Total Disaster” by Cryptic Wisdom, Novatore & Rittz talking about going from nothing to the successful artists that they are today.

Meanwhile on “Behead the God”, we have Tha Connection coming into the picture over some synths that’re reminiscent to that of an old school video game saying the world is theirs just before “The Book of Life” by MURS & R.A. the Rugged Man brings the keys back in to provide the listeners with some inspirational subject matter. “Macaulay Culkin” by Chris Webby & Merkules incorporates some whistling into the beat talking about how crazy they are, but then “Something Different” by Junk hooks up a crooning loop calling out wankstas.

“Leap of Faith” by Big Twins & Evidence finds the 2 boasting their greatness over blobby boom bap instrumental while the appropriately “Bring the Terror” by Blaq Poet & Reef the Lost Cauze weaves in some horns to wreak havoc lyrically. “Tales from the Darkside” by Ill Bill & Snak the Ripper has this dope, pitched-up vocal sample with both MCs delivering some morbidly vivid imagery & after Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind’s interlude, “Riots By Masked Men” by Lord Goat & Recognize Ali eerily gets on their murder shit.

Following that, “Wildfire” by Madchild & Sick Jacken has these incredible organ harmonies comparing themselves to such while the song “Keep Calm” by Charlie Fettah, Daniel Son & Jay Royale finds the trio over a thunderous beat talking about maintaining through the fire. The penultimate track “Last Wishes” by Esoteric, Slaine & Termanology returns to a soulful sound advising not to fuck with them while “Ride It Out” by Blind Fury ends the album on a feel-good note saying he’ll be here until the end.

I’ve been a fan of this dude’s production work since my high school years, so for him to get his own full-length debut was very much anticipated & it certainly lived up to my expectations. It’s a fresh showcase of his signature sound & some of the illest MCs in the underground happen to pop up so they can rip his beats to shreds.

Score: 4/5

Konspiracy Kamp – “Infidel” review

The Konspiracy Kamp are a quintet from Kalamazoo, Michigan consisting of Checkmait, Drama Treason, J Cutlass, Shneal & Young Ghost. The group has gone on to release 4 full-length albums & an EP throughout the 7 years they’ve been together but for the 20 year anniversary of 9/11, they’re enlisting Boston veteran C-Lance to produce a 7-track EP in it’s entirety.

“TV & Jesus” hypnotically kicks the EP off by telling us the 2 things that America really needs whereas “Neck Cutter” goes into boom bap territory getting bloodthirsty. 9th Prince tags along for the Middle Eastern-tinged “Blood on the Hand” proclaiming themselves as rebels. The titular song has a more trap vibe calling for unity just before “Regicide” heinously calls to kill all the kings. The penultimate track “Loud Ass Mouth” is a boom bap banger about how they’re always talking shit, but then the closer “Heretic” works in some snares & a guitar talking about how people wanna burn them.

I’ve been following these guys for a few years now & coming away from Infidel, I was not disappointed by it whatsoever. The raw production of their previous efforts is taken to a whole new level as is their conscious lyricism & even the way all the members bounce off one another.

Score: 4/5

Novatore – “Embrace the Darkness II: Explorers of Experience” review

Novatore is a 33 year old MC from Chicago, Illinois coming up as a member of the Infamous Crew. He’s also built up an impressive solo career in the last 6 years by dropping 4 EPs & 7 albums, the previous being Portrait of a Mad Man this past November. But given his history with Enemy Soil Entertainment in-house producer C-Lance, it’s only right for them to drop a sequel to Embrace the Darkness.

After the “Demon to Some” intro, the first song “Antisocial” is a boom bap banger about how Novatore doesn’t like people whereas “Smoke & Mirrors” goes into a more operatic direction to tell listeners what you thought it was is something that isn’t.

NEMS comes along for the atmospheric “Myth” pretty much saying their success was imminent while the somewhat quirkily-produced “Embrace the Darkness” opens up about losing faith watching people die.

Meanwhile with “Mask Up”, we get a Japanese sample in the beat as Novatore teams up with G-Mo Skee sending warning shots to their naysayers just before Termanology & A.M. Early Morning help get reminiscent on the string-laced “Looking Back”.

The actual “Night Raiders” song featuring Moecyrus succeeding an “Opening Credits” interlude brings in some synth-horns as they talk about there’s no one like them while the penultimate track “Raising Hell” is an off-the-top freestyle backed by a weepy beat. The album ends with “Workaholic”, which works in a hypnotic vocal sample & the dude raps about his hustle obviously.

It’s very rare when a sequel album is better than the predecessor, but Explorers of Experience pulls it off. Novatore’s pen-game keeps elevating to higher levels with each new project he puts out, you can never really go wrong whenever C-Lance is on the boards & putting them together results in mayhem.

Score: 4/5

C-Lance – “The Demon of Hiroshima” review

C-Lance is a 33 year old producer from Boston, Massachusetts who broke out in 2010 after becoming an in-house producer for Vinnie Paz. He would go on to become one of the underground’s most prominent names for the likes of the Army of the Pharaohs, La Coka Nostra, Swollen Members, R.A. the Rugged Man & G-Mo Skee throughout the last decade. However, C-Lance has decided to drop a new album every month throughout 2021 & is kicking it off with a sequel to his previous instrumental album The Ghosts of Mt. Fuji.

Things kick off with the title track, which has these dusty boom bap drums & some horns that kinda remind me of the classic Pharoahe Monch joint “Simon Says” for some reason. The next instrumental “Duel Under Autumn Leaves” has a sound kin to that of Visions of Gandhi while “The Ghost of Yarikawa” gets back on the boom bap rip albeit with a more alluring loop attached to it. The “Bamboo Forest instrumental has these string sections throughout that give it a cinematic feel to it while “The Hannya Mask” sounds like it was originally made for Chaly & the Filth Factory.

The “Curse of the Snow Woman” instrumental perfectly lives up to it’s name with it’s spooky vocal harmonies & icy keys whereas “Oni & Yurei” dives right back into that Vinnie/JMT sound. The “Haunting in Kawasaki” kinda reminds of me C-Lance’s first instrumental album House of 1,000 Beats with its horror movie quality while “Shrine of Kobe” stands out as the most uptempo beat on the entire project without question.

The “Spirits of Inunaki Tunnel” instrumental is laced with a heavenly vocal loop throughout while the penultimate beat “Shadow of the Samurai” is the complete opposite as the crooning samples sound evil & the trumpet is a nice touch as well. The album ends with “Tears Falling in Tokyo”, where C-Lance & Aaron Hiltz come through with a more mellow & relaxing beat.

This dude has been one of my favorite producers in recent memory & I can’t wait to hear everything else he has in store for the year. Much like The Ghosts of Mt. Fuji, he does a good job at taking all these Japanese samples & putting his own grimy spin on them.

Score: 3.5/5