Jae Skeese – “Revolver Ocelot” 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. But with only a few dates left on the Love Will Get You Killed Tour, he’s dropping a precursor to his upcoming sophomore effort Abolished Uncertainties in the form of his 7th mixtape.

“Seek/Find” is a soulful, jazzy boom bap opener about how he translates what he sees into music whereas “No Bricks, No Airs, No Rimmys” works in some vibraphones & harmonizing to look for the perfect shot on his opponents. Conway the Machine & OG Sole come into the picture for the vibrant, shit-talking trap banger “Chessmen” leading into the Loveboat Luciano-assisted “Calm Bapes” which feels like something out of a perfect crime flick.

Meanwhile on “Stolen Benz”, we have Toney Boi joining Jae Skeese on top of a smooth instrumental to call out those who weren’t there for them when they needed it just before “EKIN” brings in a bare vocal loop to flex his lyrical prowess for a minute & a half. “Grindin’” serves as an ode to his dedication with a psychedelic Camoflauge Monk beat while the song “She Threw Her 4’s Up” tells the story of a woman he met & I love the enticing sample throughout.

The penultimate track “Mandarin Manuscript” has a bit of a futuristic boom bap sound with the help of none other than JR Swiftz as Jae comparing his music to that of fine art & “All In” with 7xvethegenius is a jazzy finisher to the tape motivating the listener by reminding them it’s either all or nothing. Conway only pops up at the end delivering a spoken word bit about Drumwork taking over the industry which I wasn’t expecting, but it’s still really cool.

If you loved his verses on “Crack in the 90’s” & “Sister Abigail”, then I think you’re really gonna dig this tape. It’s a proper way to reintroduce himself to the new fans as he basically guides you through as to who he is personally & artistically. At this rate, Abolished Uncertainties is destined to be the crown jewel of Jae Skeese’s discography.

Score: 3.5/5

The Alchemist – “This Thing of Ours 2” review

The Alchemist is a 43 year old producer, DJ & rapper from Beverly Hills, California who started out as 1/2 of the duo The Whooliganz in 1993 with Scott Caan. They would only disband a year later after recording a debut album that eventually got shelved & Scott went onto acting like his father, but Mudfoot on other end quickly established himself as one of the greatest producers in hip hop history with a resume including ranging names from Mobb Deep to even Eminem. Over this past spring, he produced the latest Armand Hammer album Haram to universal acclaim & followed it up his 9th EP This Thing of Ours a month later. But now in light of the confirmation that he’ll be producing the next Earl Sweatshirt album, Uncle Al dropping a sequel to his latest EP hopefully as a little warm up.

“Miracle Baby” by MAVI is a heavenly opener proclaiming himself as such whereas “Lossless” by MIKE serves as a jazzy boom bap follow-up talking about never losing. The song “Flying Spirit” by the Bruiser Brigade works in a drumless loop for the group to proclaim their work isn’t done while the penultimate track “Wildstyle” by ZelooperZ has a more ominous sound showcasing his wordplay. “6 5 Heartbeats” by Vince Staples ends the EP by somberly recalling his youth.

Uncle Al has made it known that he’s one of the most consistent producers in the game & it’s no surprise that This Thing of Ours 2 wound up being a little bit more enjoyable than the predecessor. Another notable factor of it is that he brings in some less-bigger names into the fold & give them the exposure they truly deserve.

Score: 4/5

Lucky 7 – “Lucky & the Laser Gun” review

Lucky 7 is a 35 year old MC/producer from Buffalo, New York who I first started noticing after he laced what I personally believe is one of the mort underrated Conway the Machine singles ever: “Temple”. But he’s dropped a total 2 albums, a mixtape & 3 EPs since then before signing to Drumwork Music Group over the spring of this year. And now with only 8 dates left on the Love Will Get You Killed Tour, it’s only right for Lucky to prelude his upcoming debut on Con’s very own EMPIRE imprint with his 4th EP.

After the intro, the first song “Nuke Dropper” works in a blaring boom bap instrumental to tell his opposition to get the fuck out of his way whereas “You Gotta Make It” has a more uptempo vibe encouraging listeners to getting theirs. “Motorbike Music” takes a more luscious turn with Luck & Elcamino proclaiming themselves as rebels, but then Flee Lord tags along for the morbid “Orange Soda” talking about their young shooters.

Meanwhile on “Metal Arm Tesuo”, we have Luck & Jae Skeese wickedly bragging about their extraordinary skills leading into “Kaneda Loves Kei” soulfully pays tribute to his lady. The song “Snoopy’s Penthouse” smoothly details the lavish lifestyle while the penultimate track “Playgrounds” has a more grimier sound with the help of Stu Bangas & Elcamino returning to help shoutout those who’ve been there since the beginning. “Goodbye to Your Life” ends with some strings & lyrics about getting the millions if you follow him.

Coming away from Lucky & the Laser Gun, it’s definitely a solid precursor to Lasertron Arcade. I think the anime concept is well executed, I fuck with the wide range of emotions throughout it’s 24 minute run & how Lucky brought in some fresh faces behind the boards for him to showcase his penmanship to new listeners.

Score: 4/5

Larry June – “Into the Late Night” review

Larry June is a 30 year old MC from Vallejo, California who’s been grinding his ass off for the last 15 years. My favorites of his ever-growing discography include the Lex Luger-produced Trap Larry, the Cardo-produced Cruise USA, the Harry Fraud-produced Keep Going & even his last album Orange Print got some notable buzz over the summer. But now that he has a Griselda Records-backed collab tape with Jay Worthy on the way, Cardo & Larry are getting back together for the latter’s 14th EP.

“Gas Station Run” is a flawless late night cruiser with a g-funk flare to it whereas “Either Way” works in a synth-heavy instrumental talking about a lot of shit going down in the late night. “Don’t Try It” has a more hypnotizing sound advising not to fuck with him just before “Friday Activities” serves as a slick party starter for the weekends.

The song “Bigger Risk” has some jazz undertones to the production saying he’s thinking a decade ahead while the penultimate track “Red Book Chronicles” gets back into that vintage west coast sound asking where his boys were when he was taking a lot of risks. “Saturday Night Interview” is an odd choice for a closer, but it’s still a decent romance ballad nonetheless.

Although it’s only an EP, I’d actually say that Into the Late Night is a bit better than Orange Print. Cardo’s production style on here is a lot similar to that of Payroll Giovanni’s latest album Another Day Another Dollar which is perfect given Larry’s geographical background & his chilled out flow.

Score: 4/5

D Smoke – “War & Wonders” review

D Smoke is a 35 year old MC from Inglewood, California most notable for being the older brother of R&B singer/Top Dawg Entertainment signee SiR. He made his full-length debut in the spring of 2006 with Producer of the Year, but re-emerged in 2019 off his debut EP Inglewood High & then the Grammy nominated sophomore album Black Habits only 4 months later. However after keeping things on the low throughout a bulk of this year, D Smoke is returning in the form of his 3rd album.

The title track is a bouncy opener saying only 1 voice matters in a world between good & evil, but then “Dirty Mercedes” has a bit of a smooth boom bap feel talking about how he got ways to go. “Shame on You” takes a mistier direction going at those who don’t understand his shit leading into the Dem Jointz-produced “Road Rage” thunderously proclaiming the streets as his.

Meanwhile on “Mind My Business”, we have D Smoke going into detail about why he stays in his own lane on top of an laidback instrumental whereas the Tobe Nwigwe-assisted “Find My Way” goes back into boom bap turf looking back on their younger days. Shady Records’ very own Westside Boogie hops on board for the stripped back “Crossover” going at those faking the funk just before “Common Sense” with SiR finds the siblings on top of some jazz shit pondering the price we pay for the titular topic.

“Why Run?” is a rich reminder that life’s what you make it & “Stay True” is a jazz trap fusion about always keeping it real. “Say Go” brings in some Viking-esque horns talking about his homies hydroplaning while “Good Thing” serves as a vibrant banger about positivity coming in many forms.

Fireboy DML pretty much dominates “Sleepwalking” getting romantic with some acoustic while the song “Better Half” is a chipmunk soul-tinged tribute to D Smoke’s lady. The penultimate track “Clockwork” is an R&B-tinged cut about being loved like the world is ending & “Free Write” rounds it out with a funky fresh freestyle.

For those who dug Inglewood High & Black Habits, I think you’re gonna like War & Wonders even more. Sure there are some portions that’re blatantly inspired by Kendrick Lamar, but I dig the whole concept of him detailing what it was like for him growing up in the city of Inglewood.

Score: 3.5/5

Westside Gunn – “Hitler Wears Hermes VIII: Sincerely, Adolf (Side B)“ review

This is the highly anticipated 2nd disc of the 8th mixtape from Buffalo emcee, songwriter & entrepreneur Westside Gunn. At this point, what can be said about the guy now that hasn’t been said already? From running one of the hottest hip hop labels in recent memory to his first 2 full-lengths FLYGOD & Supreme Blientele, you’d be lying to yourself if you said he & the rest of the Griselda crew haven’t had the culture on lock for the last 5-6 years. Dude’s been laying low throughout a good portion of 2021 so far, but is deciding to finish the Hitler Wears Hermes mixtape series in the form of the 2-disc Sincerely, Adolf. The first disc came out last month & it was only a matter of time that Side B came out.

It technically starts off with the “Brodie Lee” intro & the “End How You Start” intro, but things really don’t get rolling until Conway the Machine & Benny the Butcher tag along for “Hell on Earth, Pt. 2” for some eerie boom bap coke slanger shit. Jay Electronica assists West for the jazzy “Free Kutter” calling for his homie to be released from the pen, but then “Richies” is a Gunnlib reunion reusing same sample as “Ontheway!” by Earl Sweatshirt asking if you’ve ever seen a corpse.

“Julia Lang” despite it’s brevity gets back on that yay shit with a grimy Camoflauge Monk instrumental leading into Chase Fetti, Flee Lord & Heem aligning for the disgusting 2-parter “Celine Dion”. Following this, Mach-Hommy pops up on “Best Dressed Demons” with a dusty Daringer beat declaring themselves as rolling stones just before Armani Caesar & 2 Chainz help morbidly declare that they’ll take their words to their graves for “Forest Lawn”.

Meanwhile on “Why I Do ‘Em Like That?”, we have Westside Gunn & Billie Essco jumping on top of a luxurious boom bap instrumental getting criminal minded whereas “RIP Bergdorf” finds him & Mach going back & forth nonchalantly on top of a mesmerizing vocal loop from Nicholas Craven. He later shouts out his boys Sly & J Batters on the perilous “TV Boy” while the orchestral “Survivor Series ‘95” with Jay Worthy, Larry June & T.F. declares Griselda as the new Roc-A-Fella.

Rome Streetz comes in for the JR Swiftz-produced “Eddie Kingston” saying life’s lavish & they’re beyond greatness & even though I love the classiness of “Ostertag”, it feels more like a Stove God Cook$ joint since West isn’t on it at all. “Munch” with Tiona Deniece has a bit of an R&B flare telling listeners to love how you want, but of course the AZ-assisted “99 Avirex” works in a melodic instrumental getting on their mafioso shit.

“The Fly Who Couldn’t Fly Straight” with Tyler, The Creator takes a soulful route flexing on motherfuckers while the final song “Big Al” with Rome Streetz is a depressing tribute to MF DOOM. However, the actual closer “BYE BYE” starts off with a jazz sample & then a brief spoken word passage from none other than Keisha Plum.

Now that both discs are out, I think Hitler VIII as a whole is a jam-packed finale to the popular mixtape series. There are just as many features that all come correct as the first disc did, West solidifies his icon status & I like how he went with a more varied list of producers rather than sticking with The Heartbreakers again.

Score: 3.5/5

SK da King – “Horus” review

SK da King is a 31 year old MC from Baltimore, Maryland who came up as part of the Checkered Flag Boyz under the original moniker Paul Skola. However, it wasn’t until this past spring where he signed to Conway the Machine’s recently formed Drumwork Music Group as a solo act. And since the whole crew is starting to hit the road for the Love Will Get You Killed Tour tomorrow, it’s only right for SK to drop a debut EP to get new listeners familiar with him.

The opener “I’m God” starts off with a slowed down vocal sample that later transitions into a rich trap instrumental talking about rising to the throne whereas “Blood in My Eye” works in some strings to say he was made for this rap shit. “Dancing Wit the Devil” takes a much more darker approach detailing his lifestyle just before “Actions” calls out those putting on a front.

Meanwhile on “Different”, we have SK delivering an uplifting ode to turning a new page leading into the celebratory “Winners”. The song “P.M.D.” is another upbeat cut talking about doing it on his own while the penultimate track “Ventin’” gets confessional with an instrumental soothing to the ear. “Horus Flow” ends the album with a more minimal sound flexing his lyrical abilities.

Cloud 9: The Update was cool tape, but I think Horus is SK at his best so far & I can’t wait to hear how he’ll carry that over for a full-length capacity because this would be an ideal place for new listeners to start. He sounds a lot more hungrier lyrically & the production sounds crisper too.

Score: 3.5/5

Westside Gunn – “Hitler Wears Hermes VIII: Sincerely, Adolf” review

This is the 8th mixtape from Buffalo emcee, songwriter & entrepreneur Westside Gunn. At this point, what can be said about the guy now that hasn’t been said already? From running one of the hottest hip hop labels in recent memory to his first 2 full-lengths FLYGOD & Supreme Blientele, you’d be lying to yourself if you said he & the rest of the Griselda crew haven’t had the culture on lock for the last 5-6 years. Dude’s been laying low throughout a good portion of 2021 so far, but is deciding to finish the Hitler Wears Hermes mixtape series in the form of the 2-disc Sincerely, Adolf. The first disc given to us now & the other most likely on Halloween

After the “Murders in Marfield” intro & the “Blessed Times” interlude by AA Rashid, the first actual song “Mariota” with Stove God Cook$ kicks things off with a soulful beat & them saying you ain’t gotta worry whereas “Vogue Cover” is somewhat similar instrumentally except the 2 are talking about birds going fast. Mach-Hommy tags along for the jazzy “Margiela Split Toes” to spit that fly shit just before the dusty boom bap cut “Draymond” with Rome Streetz & Stove God saying they had to pray over the bricks.

Meanwhile on “Peri Peri”, we have West & Rome sticking around to jump on top of some keys & dusty drums to talk their shit leading into the Jadakiss-assisted “Right Now” working in another jazzy beat to get on their pyrex shit. “Westheimer” by Boldy James alongside Sauce Walka & Stove God Cook$ find the trio hopping on top of an old time loop saying they had no choice but to commit murder, but then West & Lil Wayne come together for the grimy “Bash Money” to brag about their riches.

The song “Claire’s Back” starts off with a boom bap joint & the FLYGOD telling a bitch to not touch him since he got so much money, but then goes into rock territory for Conway the Machine & Benny the Butcher to spit that mafioso shit. The penultimate track “Spoonz” finds Hall ‘N Nash going back & forth with a meditative Conductor Williams instrumental, but then “716 Mile” reenlists Boldy for a wavy closer getting in their gangsta rap bag.

Although I like what I’m hearing from Hitler 8 so far, I think I’m gonna enjoy it more in context with Disc 2 when it drops a couple months from now. He didn’t have to put a feature on every single cut on here even though they all killed it, but I can definitely commend West for coming correct as much as the guests do & not rushing it like he did FLYGOD is an Awesome God II.

Score: 3.5/5

7xvethegenius – “Thy Will Be Done” review

7xvethegenius is a 31 year old MC from Buffalo, New York breaking out a couple years ago off her debut EP The Calm Before & the full-length album 7xve is Love. This was followed up with the Self 7xve EP & then this past winter, she & Jae Skeese both became the first artists that Conway the Machine would sign to his newly formed Drumwork Music Group. Now since 7xve’s sophomore album albeit Drumwork debut Death of Deuce on the way, she’s preluding it by dropping her 3rd EP.

“Tunechi” is a trap-flavored opener produced by Chup with 7xve & Armani Caesar telling motherfuckers to ask about them whereas “Payback” has an atmospheric boom bap tone speaking on her family. “Roses” goes into jazz territory addressing her lover just before “Marching” returns to that trap sound talking her shit.

The song “Psalm” with Jae Skeese takes it back into jazz turf with the help of Camoflauge Monk saying they out their lives on wax while the penultimate track “If I” with Heem meditatively tells the good they can be anything. Finally, the closer “Bailey Ave” luxuriously pays homage to the street that she came up from.

I feel like this chick has only been getting better within the last 8 months or so. Everything from 7xve’s songwriting to the production choices have improved significantly in comparison to her previous efforts. At this rate, Death of Deuce could very well be her best work yet.

Score: 3.5/5

Boldy James – “Bo Jackson” review

This is the 4th full-length album from Detroit emcee Boldy James. Breaking out in 2013 off his Alchemist produced debut M.1.C.S. (My 1st Chemistry Set), he would land a contract with Nas’ independent label Mass Appeal Records for a little while before getting locked up. Uncle Al would help get Boldy’s name back out there once getting out by dropping the Boldface EP around Christmas 2019 & then the sophomore album The Price of Tea in China at the beginning of last year. This was followed up with the Sterling Toles-produced Manger on McNichols which was as equally fantastic, but the Griselda Records-backed Versace Tape EP was a tad bit disappointing given how rushed it was. But with the 1-year anniversary of that project coming up this weekend, it’s only right for Boldy to reenlist Alchemist for Bo Jackson.

“Double Hockey Sticks” starts out with a haunting boom bap instrumental getting on his pyrex shit, but then has a hazy switch up talking about beating a case. The next song “Turpentine” has a more chipmunk soul vibe speaking on hard times whereas “Brickmile to Montana” with Benny the Butcher serves as a rugged sequel to “Scrape the Bowl”. The pianos on “E.P.M.D. (Everybody Plotting My Demise)” are eerie as fuck with Boldy calling out those who want to see him fail just before declaring that nobody is cut from his cloth for the airy “Steel Wool”.

Meanwhile on “Photographic Memories”, we have Earl Sweatshirt & Roc Marciano jump on top of a vocal loop saying they never forget faces leading into the demented storytelling “Speed Trap” provides. He later talks about taking the pot & going gold for the piano-laced “Diamond Dallas”, but then “Flight Risk” puts heavy reverb on the sample getting in his mafioso bag.

“Illegal Seizure & Search” gets back on the soulful tip talking about 5-0 whereas “Fake Flowers” with Curren$y & Freddie Gibbs viciously calls out those who be faking the funk with them. The song “3rd Person” has a more rock feel to it pondering how many times you can get away with murder while the penultimate track “First 48” is a cold blooded freestyle going on for 3 minutes. Then there’s “Drug Zone”, which ends the album with Boldy comparing himself to such.

If you happen to like Bo Jackson more than M.1.C.S. (My 1st Chemistry Set) or even The Price of Tea in China, I wouldn’t be mad at it at all because this is the 3rd damn near perfect album they’ve done together. Boldy’s raw lyricism never fails to amuse me & the production is much better than The Versace Tape although I do respect Jay Versace.

Score: 4.5/5