7xvethegenius – “Self 7xve 2” review

This is the 5th EP from Buffalo emcee 7xvethegenius. Breaking out a couple years ago off her first 2 EPs The Calm Before & Self 7xve as well as the full-length debut 7xve is Love, it wasn’t until she & Jae Skeese both became the first artists to sign with Conway the Machine’s very own EMPIRE Distribution imprint Drumwork Music Group where 7xve got her biggest break yet. Last we heard from her was over the summer when he dropped Thy Will Be Done during my first night at last year’s Gathering of the Juggalos & now in light of Skeese dropping his Big Ghost Ltd.-produced magnum opus Authenticity Check a little over a week ago, 7xve is stepping up to the plate with Self 7xve 2.

“Waves” kicks off the EP by cinematically talking about how crazy her life’s been up to this point whereas the bassy, yet flute-tinged “Affluence” follows it up by declaring that she’s cut from a different cloth. Trae tha Truth tags along for the wavy “Always Thank God” encouraging listeners to give their praise to the higher power, but then “Fluidity” brings back to the woodwinds to bring the smoke.

The song “Forecast” with Flee Lord sees the pair over some boom bap production from JR Swiftz advising to stay true to the game while the penultimate track “Back End” works in some jazzy undertones talking about fucking shit up with her partner. “Moxie” then ends the EP with a somber piano ballad putting her life up to this point on wax.

Of all the sequel projects in hip hop that have lived up to the hype set by the predecessor or even surpassed it, you can definitely add Self 7xve 2 onto that list. I really admire how she decided take it back to basics & enhance everything that I liked about the first one. Most notably also, the inclusion of features was actually a really nice move as they bring their on flavor to the tracklist.

Score: 3.5/5

Jae Skeese – “Authenticity Check” review

Jae Skeese is a 31 year old MC from Buffalo, New York who first emerged in 2010 off his debut mixtape W.A.C.K. (Women, Alcohol, Cash & Kicks). However, it wasn’t until a decade later where he & 7xvethegenius got their biggest break thus far after the very first signees to Conway the Machine’s very own EMPIRE Distribution imprint Drumwork Music Group. He just dropped his 7th mixtape Revolver Ocelot over the fall & then his 2nd EP Iroquois Pliskin a couple weeks ago, but is now tapping in with Big Ghost Ltd. to produce his 3rd EP from top to bottom.

“Shuttlesworth Form” is a creepy boom bap opener reintroducing himself whereas “Premium Grails” continues to flex his lyrical abilities & the groove of the bass happens to be my favorite part of the instrumental here. “Double Nickel at MSG” takes a more chilling route as far as sound goes talking about big stepping just before “Drip or Drown” works in a guitar & some dusty drums explaining that he’s in over his head.

Meanwhile on “Triple Post Offense”, we have Con & 7xve assisting Jae for a stellar Drumwork posse cut with an interesting vocal sample while the song “Stick-Up” reveals itself to be a perfect ode to muggin’ from the raw beat to the “Gimme the Loot” sample around the 43 second mark. The penultimate track “Vintage Eastbay Pages” encourages listeners to staying committed to making that bread over some vibraphones & “$1.50 wit Tax” admits how crazy his life has been when you really think about it over a shimmering instrumental.

Now for those who loved Jae’s verse on “Drumwork” & you’re looking to get into his music, then I’d recommend starting with Authenticity Check because I happen to look at it as the crown jewel of his discography thus far. In comparison to Iroquois Pliskin he’s at his best lyrically & the production that Big Ghost Ltd. brings to the table is incredibly consistent.

Score: 4.5/5

Jae Skeese – “Iroquois Pliskin” review

This is the 2nd EP from Buffalo emcee Jae Skeese. Coming up in late 2010 off debut mixtape W.A.C.K. (Women, Alcohol, Cash & Kicks), it wasn’t until a decade later where he & 7xvethegenius got their biggest break thus far after the very first signees to Conway the Machine’s very own EMPIRE Distribution imprint Drumwork Music Group. He just dropped his 7th mixtape Revolver Ocelot last fall ahead up his upcoming Drumwork debut album Abolished Uncertainties, but now we’re getting another prelude with Iroquois Pliskin.

“71 Custer” is a jazzy, soulful opener giving y’all his story whereas “Against tha Grain” with Conway & Flee Lord finds the trio talking about not being the usual over a pillowy boom bap instrumental from Cee Gee. “EKIN 2” takes a cloudier route for a sequel to a Revolver Ocelot joint that I like more than predecessor while the song “Sometimes (Faith)” with Stove God Cook$ sees the 2 over a smooth beat talking about the days they be having. The penultimate track “Naked Truth” with Elcamino comes through with a slicker follow up trying to see one is made of & “Tumbled Leather” ends the EP by minimally talking about how life’s a bitch.

As the anticipation for Abolished Uncertainties continues, Skeese continues to prelude it with some of the best work of his career so far. I really fuck with how much he puts his artistic progression from W.A.C.K. (Women, Alcohol, Cash & Kicks) up to now on full display with his songwriting & production choices continuing to level up.

Score: 3.5/5

Benny the Butcher – “Tana Talk 4” review

Benny the Butcher is a 37 year old MC from Buffalo, New York who’s been making music since 2004. However, it wouldn’t be until 2016 where he alongside his cousins Westside Gunn & Conway the Machine would take the culture by storm off projects like Tana Talk 3 & The Plugs I Met. Last year alone, he teamed up with Harry Fraud for The Plugs I Met II in the spring & then Pyrex Picasso in the summer. However, he’s finally linking back up with Daringer & The Alchemist for his 3rd full-length album as well as the 4th installment of the Tana Talk series.

“Johnny P’s Caddy” kicks off the album with a soulful Alchemist beat & J. Cole joining Benny in talking about deserving to be where they are now whereas the Stove God Cook$-assisted “Back 2x” follows it up by bringing the coke raps back & Daringer taking the instrumental back to the basement. “Super Plug” works in a dejecting beat talking about how his only wish was to get his close ones rich just before Boldy James tags along for “Weekends in the Perry’s”, where he & Benny jump on top of a chipmunk soul sample addressing how it’s always been.

Meanwhile on “10 More Crack Commandments”, we have The Butcher delivering a stellar sequel to “10 Crack Commandments” that would make Biggie proud down to Puff Daddy’s spoken word outro leading into Conway coming into the picture for “Tyson vs. Ali” talking about how everyone compares the greatest to the greatest nowadays on top of some dusty drums & pianos. “Uncle Bun” goes into a more suspenseful direction as a Benny & 38 Spesh toss the mic back & forth with one another, but then “Thowy’s Revenge” incorporates a horn sample talking about how he went & got it.

“Billy Joe” brings an organ into the picture to describe the shit he be doing within the first 3 days of every month while the song “Guerrero” with Westside Gunn finds the 2 on top of a futuristic boom bap instrumental with some amazing wordplay. The penultimate track “Bust a Brick Nick” viciously attacks those who haven’t been the places he’s been to even though the beat is opulent as Hell & lastly, “Mr. Chow Hall” ends the album by confessing what’s been on his mind lately & the instrumental here is just spine-tingling.

Much like Conway did with God Don’t Make Mistakes a couple weeks back, I think Benny gave us some of the best work of his career with this album. From the vivid street imagery to Daringer & The Alchemist’s production, every one involved kills it at picking up where the previous installment of the series left off while recapturing that sound.

Score: 4.5/5

King Von – “What It Means to Be King” review

King Von was a 26 year old rapper from Chicago, Illinois who came up as a Lil Durk protege. Now I wasn’t big on his mixtapes Grandson or LeVon James at first, but he really blew me away once his full-length debut Welcome to O’Block came out a little over a year ago on Devil’s Night. But as soon as he finally won me over, he was tragically murdered a week later in broad daylight. So it was only a matter of time before Only the Family Entertainment put out a posthumous album albeit Von’s 2nd overall.

Where I’m From” opens up the album with Chopsquad DJ mixing some pianos & snares as Von addresses Patoon’s death whereas “War” has a more dramatic tone sonically talking about his mob ties. G Herbo tags along for “FaceTime” to spit that gun talk on top of a rubbery bass-line & some murky choir vocals provided by Hitmaka leading into the 21 Savage-assisted “Don’t Play That”taking a more cloudier route talking about what they usually do with their day.

Meanwhile on “Straight to It”, we have Fivio Foreign assisting Von in cooking up a combative drill banger just before “Trust Nothing” with MoneyBagg Yo finds the 2 talking about bitches tripping about shit that has nothing to do with them over a thunderous trap beat with some piano chords. “Evil Twins” showcases some amazing back & forth chemistry with Lil Durk accompanied by an atmospheric backdrop, but then “Too Real” goes into a hazier direction talking about how legit he was.

“Rich Gangsta” with Tee Grizzley pretty much speaks for itself as far as the content goes even though it has one of the weaker instrumentals on the album until the synth-laced “Mad” picks things back up with Von angrily calling out those who envied him prior to his murder. “My Fault” incorporates some rich keyboard melodies as A Boogie wit da Hoodie assists Von in a decent romance ballad & the electronic undertones of “Change My Life” are a nice change of pace addressing a lover who thinks she was his wife.

Following that, “Hard to Trust” is an Asian Doll tribute that goes well down to TM88’s production until Dreezy’s verse comes in towards the backend of it while “Get Back” with Boss Top & DQFrmDaO fails at it’s attempt at a Chicago drill anthem. “Get It Done” with OMB Peezy kinda has a Detroit trap vibe to the instrumental with the pair delivering some mediocre gangsta raps while “Chase the Bag” comes through with a passionate hustler’s theme.

The track “Go N Get Em” sees Boss Top returning for a chilling look at how murderous they can be while the final song “Grandson for President” is pretty much a remix of the classic Crime Mob single “Knuck If You Buck”. The outro “Family Dedication” though ends the album with a moving spoken word bit paying tribute to all of Von’s loved ones.

For a posthumous album, I’m actually kinda torn on it. There’s nothing really wrong with King Von’s verses or a good portion of the production, but the feature-list is just so oddly picked out with their contributions ranging from focused at best to pointless & phoned in at worst.

Score: 2.5/5

Babytron – “Megatron” review

This is the 6th mixtape from Detroit rapper Babytron. Coming up as a member of the trio ShittyBoyz along with his childhood friends Stanwill & TR Dee, he’s also branched out on impressive solo career for himself as well as the side groups Lewis & Clark and the Dookie Brothers. However, it seems like last year was probably his biggest year yet landing interviews ranging from No Jumper to even Rolling Stone or the release of Luka Trončić last summer prior to signing with EMPIRE Distribution later that same month & then Bin Reaper 2: The 2nd Coming back in the tail-end of October. But to follow all that success up, he’s kicking off his 2022 run with Megatron.

“Letter to Cornelius” starts out the tape mixing jazz & trap to spit braggadocio whereas “Manute Bol” works in some strings to talk about being paid similar to that of the late NBA player of the same name. “Peachtree” goes into a cloudier direction letting muthafuckas know that no one can beat him, but then “Cobra Kai” works in a danceable groove to talk about some late night shit.

Meanwhile on “Beyond Turnt”, we have Babytron continuing to flex accompanied by some strings leading into “Huge Lifestyle 2” is a mediocre sequel to a loosie that GTP Daidoe put out a little over a year back. “Area 51” has an appropriately spacious atmosphere to it talking about being an alien just before “Mr. Do the Dash” brings a weepy violin loop into the mix declaring himself as such.

“Extra Butter” has a dope ass funk sample dissing his competition while “Crocs & Wock” takes things into a more electro-direction to ball. “BMF” of course flips the 50 Cent single “Wish Me Luck” paying tribute to Big Meech’s operation of the same name prior to DaBoii tagging along for the hyphy-laced “Chess Players” to talk about their reckless gangster mentalities.

Following that, “6 Star Wanted Level” comes through with some insane beat switches for each verse saying he lives a GTA life while “Mainstream Tron” has a more playful tone talking about all the success he’s been seeing as of late. “Hustle Junkie” is basically him admitting that he’s addicted to grindin’ with an exotic sample woven in while “God Tier” goes into soulful territory talking about being his own boss.

“December 1st” flips the Sue Ann Carwell joint “I’ll Give You Love” to declare himself a living legend while “Hold Up, Wait!” returns to a more symphonic sound talking about being too high. “RIP Virgil” experiments with disco paying homage to the late Off-White founder of the same name while “Stupid” finds Babytron displaying a decent back & forth chemistry with Glockboyz Teejaee over a violin instrumental.

The song “Jerry Rice” returns to the jazzy sounds of the opener continuing to diss anyone who thinks they can step up to him while the penultimate track “10 Toes Wherever” samples the classic Nate Dogg/Warren G banger “Nobody Does It Better” to talk about feeling cocky. “The Lost World” ends the tape with multiple beat switches & some incredible charisma in Babytron’s verses.

If you ask me, Megatron serves as yet another reminder as of why Babytron is one of the hottest rappers in the city right now. He continues to bring some exciting new sounds into the Detroit trap scene & his pen-game (most notably the punchlines) continue to level up at an astonishing rate.

Score: 3.5/5

Curren$y – “Continuance” review

This is the 18th full-length album from New Orleans veteran Curren$y. Getting his start with No Limit Records as a later member of the 504 Boyz in 2002, he would then hop over to Young Money Entertainment & Cash Money Records in ‘06 before branched out a couple years later with his own label Jet Life Recordings. Since then, the man made a name for himself by dropping a handful of projects every single year with the latest being the Ski Beatz-produced 4th installment of the Pilot Talk series. However, he’s reuniting with The Alchemist for Continuance which I was actually fiendin’ for because Covert Coup & The Carrollton Heist have always been some of the standouts in Spitta’s ever-growing discography.

“Half Morning Moons” starts off the album on a spacious note telling this woman she can kick it with him as long as she can keep a secret whereas “Reese’s Cup” is a piano ballad taking aim at his competition. Boldy James tags along for the soulful “No Yacht” talking about having an acquired taste for the finer things leading into “Obsession” talking about his being infatuated by how much money he can make over a glossy boom bap beat.

Meanwhile on “Corvette Rally Stripes”, we have Havoc & Wiz Khalifa joining Spitta on top of a grim instrumental to flaunt just before the Styles P-assisted takes a more stripped back route as the 2 talk about what it all sounds like to them. “The Tonight Show” almost has this jazzy quality to proclaiming himself as a living legend, but then “Signature Move” goes into a hazier direction talking about getting everything he wants

Detroit’s very own Babyface Ray comes into the picture for the bluesy “Louis Baggage” speaking on reaching underground king status prior to “The Final Board” going full-blown rock turf talking about getting paid in full. The song “JoDeCi Tape” gets in his romantic bag over a synth-heavy beat while the penultimate track “Endurance Runners” with Larry June returning to jazz territory declaring themselves as such. “Kool & the Gang” ends the album with a touching tribute to his son.

For this to be Spitta’s way to kick off his 2022, it absolutely lived up to my expectations & I’ll even say it’s on the exact same caliber as it’s predecessors Covert Coup & The Carrollton Heist. Alchemist’s production is superb as to be expected, the features all come correct & the man himself sounds like he’s in element lyrically.

Score: 4.5/5

Babyface Ray – “Face” review

This is the sophomore album from Detroit rapper Babyface Ray. Coming up as a member of the Team Eastside collective, he’s gone on to drop 5 mixtapes as well as a full-length debut & 2 EPs within the last 6-7 years before turning heads worldwide & becoming one of the biggest up-&-comers in the city. But with his born day approaching in a few weeks, he’s celebrating a little bit early by releasing Face.

The album starts off with Sosshouse Records’ very own Kura sampling the 1Republic cut “Apologize” for the conclusion of the “My Thoughts” trilogy whereas “6 Mile Show” finds him & Icewear Vezzo tossing braggadocious rhymes back & forth on top of a ghoulish Southside beat. “Sincerely Face” has a bit a hyphy feel to it with some alluring piano chords spitting nonstop about how everything’s a profit leading into the smoky “Tunnel Vision” proclaiming being locked into such.

Meanwhile on “Overtime”, we have Ray delivering a cloudy love ballad with Yung Lean on the hook sounding like he really doesn’t wanna be there just before G Herbo tags along for the extravagant “Blood, Sweat & Tears” talking about how their fame didn’t come overnight. “Go Yard” has a more chilled out vibe with the help of DJ Esco reminding listeners that he’s living better these days, but then “Me, Wife & Kids” talks about blowin’ money fast on top of a woozy Pooh Beatz instrumental.

“Idols” goes into a funkier yet cloudy route detailing him looking up to the thugs while “Same Pain” works in some catchy background vocals talking about everything being different from the day prior. 42 Dugg comes in the picture for the piano/hi-hat laced “Let Me Down” calling out those who disappointed them & the horns throughout “Steak N Lobster” are incredible as he gets back in his flexing bag.

“Needed Some Love” marks a return to a more hyphy-influenced sound talking about the Bonnie to his Clyde while “M.O.B. (Money Over Bitches)” has a bit of a Neptunes influence to the beat & the title of it pretty much says it all as far as subject matter goes. “Dancing with the Devil” with Pusha T was a stellar lead single as OG Parker takes things into a more moodier turn pondering if people would treat them the same if they ain’t had shit whereas the brief piano ballad “Palm Angels, Palms Itching” undeniably wears his heart on his sleeve lyrically.

Sledgren works in some flutes for the drug anthem “Kush & Codeine” with none other than Wiz Khalifa while the song “Seduction” comes off as a hilariously bad country trap cut trying to get romantic. The penultimate track “Richard Flair” has a more demonic tone to the beat talking about treating lames like Air 1’s prior to “Motown Music” sending things off with a glossy tune saying he’s gonna get this money & stay humble.

From the moment I heard Unfuckwitable last year, I knew he was continue to go up from there & Face definitely lived up to the expectations I had going into it. I like how he steps out of his comfort zone by experimenting with new sounds even though not all of them stick the landing & letting a wider audience in as to who he is.

Score: 3.5/5

The Musalini – “The Don & Eye” review

The Musalini is a 34 year old MC from New York City who’s been making noise in the underground since 2018 after dropping his debut mixtape Musalini Season. He would go on to release 3 full-lengths & 1 more tape before signing to TCF Music Group, where he’s made himself home since then by dropping a couple EPs & Return of the Oro in the early part of this decade. But to follow up his 38 Spesh-produced 3rd EP In God We Trust that came out over the fall, he’s enlisting 9th Wonder behind the boards throughout his 5th album right here.

Planet Asia tags along for the charming opener “Summer League” spitting that fly shit on top of a guitar whereas “Skyview” has a more rich, boom bap quality to it talking about how he still gets around. “Been a Minute” goes into a more calmer route telling his lover that he ain’t like other guys, but then “Paid in Full” works in an incredible jazz sample talking about how even the blind can see the whole different sequence.

Meanwhile on “Don Music”, we have 38 Spesh joining Mus on top of some horns of course getting in their mafioso bag leading into the soulful “Cat Daddy” talking about the girl he sees in his dreams being all on him now. “Deja Vu” is a cool little anthem detailing that nobody can stop his crew just before “Sun Child” has a more drumless feel to it talking about how he’s that dude.

The song “Tunnel Vision” with Izzy Hott incorporates some strings taking aim at those who tried to break them down while the penultimate track “Miami Vice” with Ice Lord mixes a vocal loop with some keyboards to spit that braggadocio. And to round it out, King Draft & Swank come into the picture for “Sincerely” once again going into jazz territory to remind listeners they spit the shit they do because they live it.

For all the readers out there who’re fans of both parties, then you’re gonna absolutely be enamored by this album. The features at the back end of it can be hit or miss & a few of the songs could’ve been more fully fleshed out in my opinion but nonetheless, 9th cooks the best production of any Mus project & the latter scorches everything in his path lyrically.

Score: 4/5

Curren$y – “Pilot Talk IV” review

Curren$y is a 40 year old rapper from New Orleans, Lousiana that first got his start with No Limit Records in 2002. He would then hop over to Young Money Entertainment & Cash Money Records in 2006, but eventually branched out in 2008 with his own label Jet Life Recordings. Since then, the man made a name for himself by dropping a handful of projects every single year with the latest being the Cash Fargo-produced Land, Air, Sea EP last month. However, Spitta’s celebrating Christmas Eve by dropping the 4th installment of his renown Pilot Talk series as his 17th full-length album & it’s only right for him to bring Ski Beatz back along for the ride.

“Big Game Fishing” is a pleasantly jazz boom bap opener paying tribute to his city & his homies who came up out of there whereas “Audio Dope 6” mixes these triumphant horns with some saxes talking about pledging to get the whole world high keeping the titular series going strong. “Non Fungible” takes a more spacious route to smoothly spit that braggadocio, but then “There It Is” has a tenser almost funkier sound challenging anyone to step to him bar for bar.

Meanwhile on “Workers & Bosses”, we have Spitta going back into cloud rap territory talking about wins turning into losses just as things start taking off leading into “The Scene” brings the saxes back in to chase away the bad vibes. “Memory Lane” is a soulful ballad with reflective lyricism while the string-laced “So Easy” factually talks about how it’s not hard to say you’re a g. The penultimate track “Under the Wings” slickly details stealing your girl with his Rolls Royce & finally, “Finger Roll” ends the album on a rap rock note telling all the clowns out there to wrap it up.

I hold the original Pilot Talk trilogy amongst the best material of Curren$y’s prolific career & this 4th installment definitely lived up to my expectations. Ski Beatz sticks to the jazz-influenced sounds of it’s predecessors & it’s still an incredibly great match for Spitta’s notoriously calm flow.

Score: 4/5