Skepta – “All In” review

Skepta is a 38 year old rapper, songwriter & producer from London, England notable for co-founding the Boy Better Know collective just 16 years back. However, a lot of people in the state including myself didn’t hop on board with him until 2016 when he dropped his 4th album Konnichiwa to critical acclaim. This was followed up a couple years back with Ignorance is Bliss but after laying low throughout 2020, he’s preluding a new album by dropping a sophomore EP.

“Bellator” starts things out with a wavy tribute to Pop Smoke whereas “Peace of Mind” with KiD CuDi & Teezee is a clubbier tune about how fine their bitches are. The song “Nirvana” with J Balvin takes a turn into Latin territory saying they’re gonna take their women to a place of happiness while the penultimate track “Lit Like This” is just him flexing & the instrumental almost has a dancehall quality to it. Then there’s “Eyes on Me” which samples “Oi” by Platinum 45 & says no one can diss them.

Overall, I like All In a tad bit more than Ignorance is Bliss. Despite being an EP, I admire how he shoots for many different production styles & you can tell he really took his time with it, as he hadn’t recorded anything this year prior to. Hopefully this next full-length of his can reach the bar that Konnichiwa did.

Score: 3.5/5

(həd) p.e. – “Sandmine” review

This is the 6th EP from renown Huntington Beach g-punk outfit (həd) p.e., which has always been masterminded by Jahred Gomes despite it’s revolving door of members throughout the 27 years they’ve been together. Standouts in the crew’s discography include their self-titled debut, Broke, Back 2 Base X, Insomnia, New World Orphans, Truth Rising & even their previous album Class of 2020 that came out the day before Broke’s 20 year anniversary last summer. It was originally intended to be the group’s last effort for a while but due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the 2020 presidential election & the birth of Jahred’s daughter, (həd) p.e. is channeling all of their inspiration from all 3 of those events into Sandmine with the help of Suburban Noize Records backing it.

The title track is a thrashy opener quenching for blood whereas “False Prophets” serves as a punky jab at Donald Trump. The song “R.T.R. (Respect The Republic)” goes into rap rock territory talking about rebellion while the penultimate track “Deathtrip” is a skate punk joint with Jahred talking about risking his life. Finally there’s “Let Me Know”, which is a reggae rock cut trying to figure out what’s on his lovers’ mind.

Class of 2020 was a great throwback to (həd) p.e.’s roots & Sandmine is just as great to me personally. Once again, they’re taking it back to the basics except Jahred & company sound a lot more pissed off than they did when we last heard them 11 months prior.

Score: 4/5

B-Side – “The Essence” review

This is the long-awaited debut EP from Detroit emcee B-Side. Most notable for being 1/2 of the duo Sidenotes, the man wouldn’t branch off until the release of his debut mixtape The Vertigo 1.5 in the summer of 2013. This was followed up the next year with A Side Called B & then B-Side Wins Again at the tail end of 2018. However, it’s been all leading up to The Essence right here.

“20 Million” kicks things off with a dusty boom bap instrumental from Foul Mouth & the amount B-Side wants until he retires whereas “Mission Statement” takes things into soul/electro turf with the help of Black Bethoven telling you to consider this as such. “Supply & Demand” is a bluesy Sidenotes reunion as if they never left leading into the almost jazzy & vivid story of the “Invisible Man”.

Meanwhile on “Listen Up”, we have Mr. Wrong & Tone Plummer coming into the fold to turn the track into torture porn with an almost funky instrumental just before he takes you on some “A.P.A. (Action Packed Adventures)” with a booming beat from Konnie Ross. The title track has a bit of a spacious feel with the help of Pig Pen reminiscing on his come up as an artist, but then “The One & Only!!” closes things out with a rock-influenced instrumental from DJ Los & lyrics about his uniqueness.

Been a long time coming, but I’m glad this day has finally come because you’re hearing B-Side at his best throughout The Essence. Dude’s pen-game is witty & I dig how he sticks to that vintage hip hop sound.

Score: 4/5

Destroy Lonely – “XO” review

Destroy Lonely is a 19 year old rapper from Atlanta, Georgia notable for being the son of former Disturbing tha Peace Records signee I-20. He’s released a total of 4 EPs & 2 full-length albums since originally breaking out through SoundCloud a couple years back & with his born day coming up next Friday, he’s celebrating by dropping a 5th EP out of nowhere.

“tokyoto” is a spacey, boisterous way to kick things off whereas “i got ‘em” shows off the shit he has now on top a peppy trap beat. The song “okay ya!” takes a more lo-fi direction to address those who say he changed up while the penultimate track “do the most…” works in some heavy bass & vintage video game samples saying he didn’t have to ask for shit. Then there’s “Ok (What I Do)”, which is a cloudy finisher saying they can’t replicate him.

Personally, this could very well be my favorite EP that Lonely has put out thus far. His songwriting is catchy as are the performances & his ear for production is admirable too. Definitely someone to be looking out for in the SoundCloud scene right now. Looking forward to what he has to offer on No Stylist.

Score: 3.5/5

Xhulooo – “Rude & Reno” review

Xhulooo is a 16 year old rapper from Atlanta, Georgia who first emerged through SoundCloud at the very beginning of 2019. He’s gone on to drop a total of 6 EPs since then but after taking a 9-month hiatus following the previous one ##Enigma: Uncut from last October, the up-&-comer is reemerging with a 7th EP.

“42” kicks the EP off with some strings & hi-hats to talk about putting a motherfucker in the woods whereas “Red Hair” jumps on top of a cloudy beat to say he doesn’t blame anyone who hates him because he’s getting money.

The song “Bathing Ape” flexes over an uptempo instrumental while the penultimate track “Fresh” is a rubbery homage to the late Bankroll Fresh. Finally there’s “Promise”, which has a euphoric ring to the production & Xhulooo to acknowledge that they’re watching him.

Overall, I’m pretty impressed with what this kid had to offer with Rude & Reno. I like the playful production & his performances are super catchy. Whenever he drops a full-length debut down the road, it’s bound to be his magnum opus.

Score: 3.5/5

Ski Mask the Slump God – “Sin City” review

This is the 4th mixtape from Orlando rapper Ski Mask the Slump God. Coming up as the co-founder of Members Only alongside the late XXXTENTACION, he then dropped a couple EPs & a great mixtape called Drown in Designer in 2016 before signing to Republic Records the following year with his 2nd tape called YouWillRegret being his first outing on a major label. This was followed up with Beware the Book of Eli & the full-length debut Stokeley in 2018 but after a 3-year hiatus, Ski is making his comeback by dropping Sin City.

The intro starts off as a spoken word piece, but busts into an industrial beat from Ronny J & a short verse about how humanity’s been dead. The next song “Dr. Seuss” goes on to brag about his unique flow despite the instrumental being kinda plain before “Admit It” works on a xylophone to say he’s fucking up the stats. Meanwhile on “The Matrix”, we have Ski jumping on some bass & hi-hats to make a bunch of pop culture references whereas “Ya!” is a half-assed & skeletal cut describing “real n***a paradise”.

Kenny Beats comes in to sample Missy Elliott’s “Work It” for the braggadocious “Merlin’s Staff” before taking the acoustic route on the emotional “Lost in Time”. The penultimate track “Fire Hazard” is a bass-heavy riot starter & then the closer “Mental Magneto” is a grungy look at being conflicted.

I’m pretty indifferent towards Sin City at the end of the day. Half of these cuts are straight heat, but then the other half is just uneventful & boring. I really wish he would flesh his joints out more fully then making a 9-track, 20 minute EP & calling it a “mixtape”.

Score: 2.5/5

Lou from Paradise – “Not Dead Yet!” review

Lou from Paradise is a 25 year old MC from Brooklyn, New York breaking out in 2017 off the strength of his debut mixtape Humaniac. This resulted in a short-lived deal with Interscope Records, whom helped him put out his debut album Painkiller Paradise a couple years later. But after keeping a low profile since then, Lou is tapping in Statik Selektah for his 2nd EP.

“Brainless” serves as a classy opener with it’s jazzy undertones & the choir vocals in the instrumental as Lou tells listeners he’s still an asshole to this day. The title track jumps on quirky boom bap production to shove his return in our faces whereas “Antifreeze” is an eerier cut about how shit ain’t faze him in a while.

The gloomy “Cold Shoulder” speaks on how he’d never thought he’d make it out of the hood to give a fuck what others think while the piano-laced penultimate track “Outside wit Psychoz” tells the listener that he doesn’t feel shit. Then there’s “Stray Dog”, which is an off-the-top freestyle accompanied with a devilish beat.

I’ve been waiting 4 years for Lou to drop his magnum opus & I feel like he finally did it on Not Dead Yet!. His lyricism has improved quite a bit since he first came onto the scene & the signature sound Statik Selektah brings to the table suits the kid best.

Score: 4/5

Summrs – “What We Have” review

Summrs is a 20 year old rapper from Lafayette, Louisiana coming up as a member of the Slayworld collective founded by Goonie amongst others. He’s dropped a plethora of projects since 2016 including All Summr & Devotion. But just 3 months after his most recent album Intoxicated, the kid is following it up with a brand new EP.

The title track at the start speaks on his drug addiction over a peaceful yet bass-heavy beat from Goyxrd whereas the next song “put out fye” is a cloudy love ballad. Meanwhile on “out da window”, we get these luscious synth chords as Summrs shows off his bankroll while the Autumn!-produced “just can’t” is a smoky cut about how no one can touch his rank. The penultimate track “bfo2” serves as a mystical sequel to “Me vs. the World / Bros Fall Out” & then “cut so deep” is a glossy finisher about how “you feelin’ me & I’m feelin’ you”.

In my personal opinion, this is one of the best projects that Summrs has put out yet. I like how he went back to the pluggnb sound that he came up on & it’s pretty cool for any Day 1 fans of his.

Score: 3.5/5

Autumn! – “Golden Child” review

Autumn! is a 22 year old rapper/producer from Lafayette, Louisiana who’s dropped over a dozen EPs & a full-length album on SoundCloud since 2018. But for his 14th EP over here that just dropped, he’s kicking off a new hexalogy that should be completed about a year from now.

I love how “The Definition of Grateful!” kicks off the whole thing being a heavenly tribute to Autumn!’s whole family whereas “What My OG Told Me!” serves as a heart-wrenching tribute to his now deceased brother. Meanwhile on “The Other Side!”, we get a bassy depiction of his mental stresses while “The True Cost of Fame!” states that he give a fuck what people say about him & wakes up to make money daily in a pillowy fashion.

“Not 3 But 2!” has a wavy instrumental & lyrics about how he’s not at the same speed as this chick leading into him ballin’ like Tracy McGrady on the atmospheric “D1!”, in which the drums just hit you in the chest. The penultimate track “Keep Ya Head Up!” almost has a hyphy quality to it in the beat as Autumn! expresses the fact that some people wanna see him down & then “Now!” finishes the EP off by charmingly flexing his continuously rising profile.

I’d recommend checking this EP out if anyone reading this isn’t familiar with Autumn! because he’s easily one of the most interesting characters in the plugg scene along with SoFaygo, D. Savage, Bktherula & Summrs. The production is super chilled out & he gets at his most personal throughout the lyrics.

Score: 3.5/5

KanKan – “##B4RR” review

This is the 14th EP from Dallas artist/producer KanKan. Coming up in 2019 as a member of Slayworld, he also got his name out there by producing for a wide range of artists from Summrs to even Little Pimp. Dude just dropped a sequel to B4 AMGs & SRTs last month not even & has decided to not slow down anytime soon putting out ##B4RR in just a short matter of time.

“We Get High” is an electro-tinged opener about using drugs before going at those who’re inferior to him on the Pi’erre Bourne-influenced “Under Us”. Meanwhile on “RedEye”, we get these incredible synth passages & KanKan going on about his newfound famous lifestyle.

The song “Mad at Me” is a dystopian shot at his haters while the penultimate track “Broad Day” takes shots at his biters over a nocturnal instrumental. The EP then rounds out with “Wicked”, where KanKan & ssgkobe hop on some monstrous bass for a whole lotta fuckery in their words.

For those who’re looking to get into this kid’s discography, ##B4RR isn’t a bad place to start at all. The ideas he brings to the table in terms of sound are really interesting & he still sounds hungry as Hell despite his popularity continuously growing.

Score: 3.5/5