OuterSpace – “Lost Angels” review

OuterSpace is a revered underground duo from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania consisting of Crypt the Warchild & Planetary. Originally a trio alongside Jedeye, they would catch the attention of local emcee Vinnie Paz & joined his Army of the Pharaohs collective following their debut EP Illegaliens. They would go on to drop 4 albums since, with my favorites being their full-length debut Blood & Ashes alongside their last one My Brother’s Keeper. But after laying low for over a decade, Crypt & Planetary are finally preluding Lost in Space in the form of their 2nd EP.

“Pay Homage” is an aggressive boom bap opener produced by MTK with OuterSpace demanding you give them their flowers while the song “Gimme Patience” with Elemxnt takes the trap route courtesy of C-Lance confessing that they’ve been trying to stay strong for too long. The penultimate track “10 Toes Down” returns to the boom bap as the duo strives to stay loyal to everyone on the ground until “Mi Hermano” comes through with a cinematic closer talking having no mercy to give & refusing to swallow their pride.

Lost in Space has been long overdue & if this is just a taste of what’s to finally come, then I’m sure it’ll be amongst the biggest comeback albums in recent memory. You can truly hear the passion reignited in Crypt & Planetary as their chemistry is stronger than it was when they first started 25 years back as the production mainly sticks to a more traditional boom bap sound.

Score: 3.5/5

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tana – “Gaultier” review

This is the 6th EP from Atlanta up-&-comer tana. Coming up in 2018 as a member of the plu2o9 collective under the original moniker BabySantana, he would go on to drop his first 2 EPs Recreation! & Planet Sosa alongside his debut mixtape Quan a couple years later & eventually signed to Lil Tecca’s very own Republic Records imprint Galactic Records the next fall. But coming off his last 3 EPs n(n) as well as Santana & it’s sequel, tana’s ringing in 2023 by making Gaultier his official major label debut.

“y” is a cloudy trap opener to the EP with tana the type of woman to drive you crazy yet the one you’d want to settle down & have kids with whereas “archive” continues to take a more atmospheric route courtesy of Internet Money Records founder Taz Taylor talking about wanting to touch the stars. “saving me” samples “Clairvoyant” by MISOGI confessing that he can’t be saved whatsoever, but then “hell nah” gives me a more psychedelic feel talking about hanging with shooters & telling/showing you how he feels.

Moving on from there with “hell yeah”, we have tana boasting his wealth & being prideful of the position that he’s in currently on top of a pluggy trap instrumental leading into
“fear no man” talking about being afraid of anyone or anything over some hi-hats & synthesizers provided by Zodiac. “gon be ok” keeps things in cloud rap territory promising that everything will work itself out in the end just before the piano-laced “swaggin’ like this”with Lancey Foux finds the 2 showing y’all how they swag out.

The song “as i walk thru the path” speaks on getting faded in light of haters over a peppy trap beat while the penultimate track “hills @ night” has a more wavier groove to it from the synths to the lyrics about wanting to call this baddie his. “hope you feel the same” however is an acoustic-heavy closer to the EP touching on being unable to numb the pain & being stuck in his ways. I also don’t mind the interpolation of “changes” by the late XXXTENTACION at the back-end of the verse either.

Of the 3 protégés that Lil Tecca has taken under his wing & signed to Galactic/Republic so far, I respectfully think tana is the most promising of the bunch & Gaultier further cements that in my personal opinion. From the improved production choices to the passionate performances & catchy songwriting, this is a solid major label debut that demonstrates how much he’s grown as an artist within the last 5 years & gives me the feeling that it’s only the beginning.

Score: 3.5/5

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Smokingskul – “Bready” review

This is the 28th EP from emerging Swedish-American recording artist Smokingskul. Coming up in the spring of 2018 off his debut EP Souls, it wasn’t until earlier this week where my little brother & UnreleasedSnip founder Jacob! played some of his shit for me during a smoke session. Namely the singles “Assembly Line” & “Vlone”. I was so impressed by the witty lyricism throughout both of those cuts, that it intrigued me enough to check out the Geffen Records-backed Nat Cap a few days later. I didn’t get to cover his previous EP Swedish Guy a few weeks later, but was most certainly intrigued to hear Bready following it’s announcement over the weekend.

“Chicken Wing” is a bombastic trap opener spitting about his mob ties even including an insane Backyardagains reference whereas “Aesthetic” comes through with a more synth-based approach calling out those who want his formula kin to a Krabby Patty or matching much like Freddy Krueger & Jason Voorhees. “Blue Zan” delivers a chaotic trap instrumental that he loves the blick more than rednecks along with getting Starbucks & how he ain’t Dunkin’, but then “Comic Con” almost has a cloudy flare to it talking about everything being real with him.

However with “Move”, we have Skul airing out the artists who be purpin’ & making all the opps accompanied by some sub-bass & synthesizers while the song “Fed 2” is a short yet aggressive sequel to the highlight “Fed” off his 22nd EP Da Slimeprint nearly 10 months ago at this point. The penultimate track “Green” goes into more pluggier turf letting y’all know what he’s sipping on & being off that white à la Charlie Sheen just before the rage-inducing closer “Perks on Hand” ties things up talking about staying to himself.

In comparison to everyone else that’s apart of the Taliban collective, Smokingskul has only been further revealing himself to be my favorite member within the past few months & Bready solidifies that for being the kick-off to what I personally believe will be the biggest year of his career to date. The production year again hones in on the plugg sound that he blew up off of as his distinct voice, invigoratingly aggressive delivery & witty gangsta raps continue to cement him as one of the most exciting new faces in the subgenre.

Score: 4/5

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Tha God Fahim – “Dark Shogunn Assassin”

This is the 39th EP from from Atlanta emcee/producer Tha God Fahim. Coming up as an affiliate of Griselda Records alongside Mach-Hommy & Your Old Droog, he’s also built up an incredibly vast discography with a couple of standouts being Breaking Through tha Van Allen Belts & Dump Assassins. Now the last time I covered Fahim’s work was when he dropped his 19th full-length album 6 Ring Champ & the final installment of the Shot Clock King trilogy of EPs produced by Nicholas Craven shortly after last spring, but is reuniting with Griselda in-house producer Camoflauge Monk to drop Dark Shogunn Assassin following the NicoJP-produced Chess Moves only a few days prior.

“Gristle” is a jazzy boom bap opener with Fahim rapping about how the dumpin’ won’t stop until he says as well as bringing the pain similar to that of Method Man & asking who the boogeyman of this rap shit really is. Estee Nack of the Tragic Allies also happens to pop up during the 2nd half of the song to lay down the EP’s only guest verse & he absolutely obliterates it, raising my expectations for Nacksaw Jim Duggan even higher than it already was when Westside Gunn announced it on Twitter a month ago already. The penultimate track “Sword n Shields” blends some kicks & snares with these low-register synthesizers so he can treat his pen as if it was a blade moonwalking over MCs as if the late King of Pop himself Michael Jackson came back from the dead & advising that you can lead a horse to the pond, but can’t make them drink. “Never Back Down” finishes it all off on a more mellow note with Fahim talking about being up for any challenge that’s brought to him & coming up from the struggle.

Blvk Pearl, it’s sequel, Iron Monkey, Iron Monkey: Dump Olympics & Only God Can Judge Me are all essential Fahim projects in my book so my expectations going into this EP were significantly higher than Chess Pieces as a result of that. Needless to say, they did it again with Dark Shogunn Assassin. Yeah it’s only 3 tracks running at 9 minutes, but don’t let that scare you from thinking that Camoflauge Monk’s raw production & Fahim’s elevated lyricism make it more than worth your while because they really never miss whenever they join forces.

Score: 4/5

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Bobby J from Rockaway – “Radio Days” review

This is the 2nd EP from Queens emcee Bobby J from Rockaway. Coming up as a protege of Kwamé, he would begin to turn heads in the underground during the summer of 2019 off the strength of his full-length debut Summer Classics along with his Statik Selektah produced debut EP Endless Summer, the latter being my introduction to his music along with 1 Mic & a Drum’s eponymous EP. Bobby then joined forces with Detroit veteran Hush to drop the collab album 718 II 313 last summer, of which they had the honor of playing 80% of to me at a studio a year prior. But just about 6 months later, he’s enlisting NYC producer Nef behind the boards to drop Radio Days.

After the intro, the first song “From the Jump” with J57 finds the 2 over a triumphant boom bap instrumental describing their plot to expand prior to Street Smartz & Wais P assisting Bobby on the soulful “Leaving” declaring that they’re never putting down the mics. “Something Like” is a rap rock/boom bap hybrid paying tribute to all the b-boys out there just before “Mind, Body & Soul” comes through with a more mellow sound as Bobby & Michael Fiya talk about feeling the vibes. “1 Love” brings back the soul for the ladies while the 7182313 interlude reunites with Hush to show off their chemistry over a trunk knocking beat. The penultimate track “Fade Away” mixes a crooning sample with some keys & a country guitar talking about what’s gonna happen when the flame burns out while “The Hangover” is a bluesy closer detailing having too much to drink the night before.

Endless Summer still stands as my favorite EP that Bobby has ever done but to have Radio Days be his first solo effort in 3 years, I’ll still take it. Nef’s production is some of his most interesting to date as the sounds I don’t think I’ve ever heard Bobby experiment with in the past, but that’s what makes it exciting because it tells me that he’s continuing to grow as an artist. If this is only a precursor to a sophomore album, then it could very well end up being his best.

Score: 3.5/5

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Autumn! – “##B4GC3” review

This is the 19th EP from Louisiana rapper/producer Autumn!. Making a name himself in the plugg scene, he got his start by dropping 16 EPs & a full-length debut on SoundCloud since 2018 prior to signing to Victor Victor Worldwide & Republic Records right following the Not Much Left EP. He made his major label debut last spring with his sophomore album Antagonist!, following it up with ##B4GC2 & Golden Child 2. But with the final chapter of the trilogy on the horizon, of course twinuzis had to prelude it with ##B4GC3.

“Baby Fewch!” is an atmospheric trap opener to the EP with Autumn! talking about getting this shit too easy whereas the song “Colors!” takes a more vibrant route detailing his mob boss & not stressing over fuck boys. The penultimate track “Recollections of Fame!” embraces the pluggnb sound we all came to know & love him for as he clarifies that all his brothers roll with him prior to “The Remorse!” ending things on a somber note recalling a phone call that he received in New York & trying hard to find some sort of closure.

As we await for Golden Child 3 which is said to be a self-produced full-length album unlike the past installments of the series being EPs, this’ll sure be enough to hold us off until then. It’s pretty much a mix of his pluggnb roots & some new sounds that he successfully decided to try out. At this rate, the final entry of this series that introduced me to dude’s music is sure to be something special.

Score: 3.5/5

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Ice Spice – “Like..?” review

Ice Spice is a 23 year old rapper from The Bronx, New York who actually grew up with a hard knock life at the Hudson Street Orphanage ran by Agatha Hannigan. After being adopted by Oliver Warbucks, she grew up to pursue a music career last summer after uploading a couple viral music videos & landing a Capitol Records contract. Drake eventually flew her out to join him at OVO Fest not too long after & unfollowed her on Instagram rather quickly once the festival concluded, with him calling her “a 10 trying to rap” & that her music is “good on mute” on the highlight track “BackOutsideBoyz” off his recent collab album with 21 Savage that dropped a couple months ago Her Loss. But to prelude her full-length debut, she’s surprise dropping her debut EP in only a few hours’ notice.

“In Ha Mood” is a decent sample drill opener with a jersey club flare to it convincing her mans to stay with him even though she wants to turn up whereas “Princess Diana” compares herself to the late Princess of Wale over some more safer drill production. “Gangsta Boo” with Lil Tjay averagely flips “I Need a Girl, Pt. 2” by Puff Daddy touching on gangsta love & having nothing to do with the late Gangsta Boo whatsoever while the song “Actin’ a Smoochie” staying in sample drill turf getting raunchy. The penultimate track “Bikini Bottom” has a fresh slack-key guitar as she discusses what fame has brought her & “Munch” is a Brooklyn drill closer paying tribute to cunnilingus.

Before I wrap things up, lemme just say the Annie references at the beginning of the review were clearly jokes. As far as the quality of the music being presented, it’s a decent EP. I can definitely see why she’s popular in the Brooklyn drill scene, but it’s just that I’ve heard the sample drill style that she also pulls from on here pulled off better with projects such as RealYungPhil’s 7th EP Dr. Phil & even Pasto Flocco’s most recent stuff.

Score: 3/5

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Sk8star – “rebel” review

This is the 4th EP from Atlanta recording artist Sk8star. Blowing up in the spring of 2021 off Superstar Status, he would go on to follow it up last year with both the B4NWØ EP & his debut mixtape New World Ørder respectively. The latter being my introduction to Sk8’s music after my lil brody UnreleasedSnip put me on, with songs like “Standin’ on Business” & “YSL Flow” being the standouts for me personally. He just dropped his previous EP Mogul a month after we saw him live in Brooklyn & just so happened to surprise drop rebel here over the weekend, 4 weeks later.

“king of the hill” is a guitar-tinged trap opener with Sk8 talking about a baddie in high heels being totally unaware of how good he makes her feel whereas “mono boots alyx” has a more atmospheric approach asking a shorty what her sign is & shows off the titular boots that he happens to own. “imma ride” works in some hi-hats & strings speaking on being by his homie’s side, but then “status” takes the cloudier route to talk about how he been ballin’. The woozy penultimate track “in the shadows” produced by Indigo finds Sk8 acknowledging that he’s doing better than his enemies & they hate him for it just before “motion” sends things off on a peppy yet melodic note having just that.

If anyone’s still not up on this dude yet, then I recommend you change that because I think one of the ATL’s most exciting up-&-comers at the moment is gonna go even harder than he did last year when I got put onto him & this definitely goes to show it. It’s really fresh to hear him detail where he’s at in his life currently & even displaying his versatility with some the beats that these producers bring to the table.

Score: 3.5/5

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Bukshot – “When Hell Freezes” review

This is the 18th EP from Louisville, Kentucky emcee & Mobstyle Music founder Bukshot. From his lengthy solo discography to the group & duos that’s formed with some of the biggest names that the underground has to offer, there’s no question that dude’s been putting it down for the culture for a grip at this point. He just dropped the ferocious Never Safe last spring prior to his appearances at Astronomicon around that same time & is now seeing fit to put When Hell Freezes up on DSPs in light of Friday the 13th.

After the “Kafkaesque” intro, the title track truly opens up the EP with a cinematically haunting instrumental courtesy of 7 airing out those who want him out of the game prior to the almighty Alla Xul Elu & Lo Key tagging along for the apocalyptic trap banger “Rise Up” talking about running this shit from underneath. Stevie Stone comes into the picture for the cavernous “We Was” looks back to the days on the block while the song “Chant” with the Super Famous Fun Time Guys sees the trio over some kicks & snares talking about having these ways of crushing their dreams. The penultimate track “Death Dance” with the Lune Squad has a more morbid trap flare to it confessing they see their skeletons dancing & the Godsynth-produced “Beat ‘Em Up” ends with The Underground Avengers reuniting alongside Zitro for a fight anthem.

Mobstyle have been rightfully experiencing a rise in popularity within the underground wicked shit scene within the last 3 years & if this is how Buk’s gonna ring in 2023, then it only increases my anticipation for what Mobstyle has coming down the pipe such as Cabal’s sophomore album The Bottomless Pit & of course The Horde’s eponymous debut. The production’s knocking, nearly every feature comes correct & Buk sounds as ruthless as before.

Score: 4/5

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Mickey Diamond – “Oroku Saki” review

This is the 6th EP from Detroit underground emcee Mickey Diamond. Emerging at the beginning of 2020 off the strength of his debut EP Bangkok Dangerous, the dude has since gone on to turn quite a few heads in the underground by building up the impressive discography for himself with his previous 6 albums alongside 5 EPs & & a mixtape. His last 2 outings Gucci Ghost & Gucci Ghost 2produced by Big Ghost Ltd. that dropped back to back last month have quickly become my favorite bodies of work that Diamond has put out yet so when I found out that one of my favorite graphic artists in recent memory Ral Duke would be behind the boards for Oroku Saki in it’s entirety, it was only right to give it my first review of 2023 since Gucci Ghost 2 was my last review of 2022.

After the “Can Opener” intro, the title track is a symphonic boom bap opener where Mickey talks about how he’s gonna make you learn to respect the throne whereas “Chrome Dome” works in some more strings whilst dashing some jazzy undertones to the beat as well referring to himself as the masked man. “Wow!” hooks up some kicks & snares with a piano loop talking about how those listening be knowing his style leading into “Multiverse” following the “Krangstrumental” interlude takes a more cavernous route in terms of sound echoing the iconic Tribe Called Quest joint “Can I Kick It?” painting images of the wicked mean streets. “Turtle Soup” is a killer rap rock cut talking about what he be dining on tonight & ruthlessly hijacking your whole residence while “The Foot” returns to the boom bap talking about how he could never take all of this from a rat. After the “Ooze” interlude though, Mondo Slade come into the picture for the closer “Shredder vs. Casey Jones” as he & Diamond essentially battle rap one another over an uncanny instrumental with co-production from & Swab.

It’s funny how Gucci Ghost 2 was a last minute addition to my best of 2022 list & now here is 3 weeks later kicking off the new year the exact same way: By giving us his 3rd consecutive classic. As someone who enjoyed the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series as well as the first 2 movies from the early 90’s & the ‘03 series, the concept of the EP is incredibly cohesive as Mickey ties in references into his hardcore lyrical style excellently. Now the only time I can recall hearing Ral Duke production a track was “Painkillers” off Conway the Machine’s 11th mixtape Everybody‘s F.O.O.D. 2: Eat What U Kill & that was always a highlight track for me personally, but I genuinely appreciate how much his production here has fluctuated so much in the last 4 years or so.

Score: 4.5/5

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