Shaggy 2 Dope is a 48 year old MC, producer, DJ, former professional wrestler & podcast host of The Shaggy Show from Detroit, Michigan who formed the Insane Clown Posse with his late older brother John Kickjazz alongside his best friend Violent J & the late Kid Villain. But for the past 3 decades, the Southwest Strangla & the Duke of the Wicked have spread the word of the Dark Carnival whether it be the first 6 Joker’s Cards or the label that runs beneath the streets Psychopathic Records. However, it is widely known that 2 Dope was the first of the Clowns to go solo with his 1994 debut EP Fuck Off! produced by Mike E. Clark as a prelude to the shelved full-length Shaggs the Clown. He eventually returned on his own in ‘06 with F.T.F.O. (Fuck the Fuck Off) & here we are on the 6 year anniversary of his DJ Clay-produced sophomore effort F.T.F.O.M.F. (Fuck the Fuck Off MuthaFucka) witnessing Stretch Nuts returning over 4 years after Gloomy Sunday by dropping his 3rd EP.
“Clown Boi” is a trap opener produced by Shaggytheairhead with Bazooka Joey talking about the only 2 words that he knows are seek & destroy whereas “Illuminati Don’t Want Me” works in some synthesizer patterns & hi-hats to make it known that he ain’t weak or snotty whatsoever which has been historically proven. “Defy” is an electro-trap hybrid talking about disobeying or resisting everything from love & hate to gravity with a fresh reference to “Stomp” off my 2nd favorite sideshow EP Tunnel of Love during the first verse just before “Done Giving a Fuck” takes a cloudier route with the title saying it all that he’s doesn’t have any fucks to give anymore.
Meanwhile, “How Ya Been” begins the final leg of the EP with a smooth trap ballad with Shaggs warmly declaring that everyone’s welcome here while the song “This Ain’t That Bitch” has an eerie vibe courtesy of his lil brother Tre Lb & a Carnival of Carnage title track sample during the hook calling out all the bitch boys. The penultimate track “The Quest for…” has some crazy beat switches throughout courtesy of DJ Clay & 2 Dope talking about looking for the ultimate groove of course, but then “The Ulimate Groove” ties things up with an EDM closer.
It breaks my heart to see people trying to slander the Duke’s name as a juggalo kid from Detroit & as much as I appreciated Bloody Sunday for being darker than J’s previous solo efforts, solo Shaggy never disappoints & he once again proves his point here. The production is eclectic in sound & he continues to expand on his lyrical elevation as shown on the Yum Yum Bedlam era output as phat as he’s always been. Fuck all the toxicity & drama, everything boils down to the music at the end of the day & that’s the only thing that matters to me until I’m dead in the ground.
This is the 27th EP from New Orleans duo the $uicideboy$. Consisting of Ruby da Cherry & $crim, these guys released a plethora of projects within the last decade whether it be the Kill Your$elf saga & Eternal Grey or even I WANNA DIE IN NEW ORLEANS & the Travis Barker-produced Live Fast, Die Whenever. The boy$’ just dropped their last album Sing Me a Lullaby, My Sweet Temptation over the summer & are wrapping up the month of May by concluding the Yin Yang Tapes tetralogy.
After the intro, the first song “Bossier City Kidnap Victims” starts the final entry of the saga by making the block wet with an eerie trap instrumental backing them while the penultimate track “Didn’t They Give You Percoset?” takes a more straightforward dirty south turn talking about getting the money. “I Deleted Facebook a Long Time Ago” rounds out the EP with a cloudy Memphis trap banger knocking motherfuckers out they case, thus ending the Yin Yang Tapes era & marking the beginning of the Grey Sheep III rollout.
People were complaining about the predecessor to be 1-dimensional & I think I can just come straight out the gate saying that’s not the case with this final installment of the series. I mean yeah we still get doses of cloudy Memphis gangsta rap & rare phonk, but the dirty south opener was a refreshing change of pace from what we heard throughout the dozen joints we got from the boy$ this month excluding the intros & makes me confident about the Grey Sheep trilogy coming to a conclusion this summer since the original contains some of their strongest material.
The $uicideboy$ are a hip hop duo from New Orleans, Louisiana consisting of Ruby da Cherry & $crim. For almost a decade now, these guys released a plethora of projects whether it be the Kill Your$elf saga & Eternal Grey or even I WANNA DIE IN NEW ORLEANS & the Travis Barker-produced Live Fast, Die Whenever. The boy$’ just dropped their last album Sing Me a Lullaby, My Sweet Temptation over the summer & continuing the Yin Yang Tapes series in the form of their 26th EP.
After the “Fall Season” intro, the song “whatwhat” opens things up with some gritty synthesizer patterns & hi-hats cautioning that you better stay the fuck away from them while the penultimate track “Every Dog Has His Day” gives off a more atmospherically Memphis kind of vibe to it this time around getting on their Scarface shit. “Provolone & Heroin” featuring Freddie Dredd however happens to be a mediocre closer despite its mystic trap production the lyrics representing the north side of New Orleans.
If you’re already familiar with the last 2 installments of the series, then you pretty much know what you’re getting yourself into here as they drop off 3 songs that fans can get themselves into the fall mood in about 4 months when the leaves actually start to turn brown. The feature at the backend is probably the weakest of the tetralogy so far, but they continue to expand on the cloudy rare phonk sounds from before & dropping their signature gangsta-infused lyrics on top of it.
MonStar Entertainment is an independent hip hop label based out of Flint, Michigan, founded by local emcee Lyte & his business parter Matt Estep almost a decade ago by now. Their presence was first felt in the summer of 2014 when Young Lyte put out his debut mixtape Follow the Lyte, but took a backseat once he signed to Psychopathic Records on New Year’s Day 2017 & preluded his full-length debut Broke But Still Shining at that summer in the form of a debut EP Psychopathic MonStar before leaving the next fall. Eventually, he returned last March by dropping Metamorphosis solidly detailing his artistic & personal growth since taking time off in music. But after signing longtime affiliate Skitzo as well as Hypnotic Sound Studios co-founder Str8jaket & even Psychopathic’s first act that they signed Project Born, all 5 of them are joining forces to deliver a debut EP showcasing the ever-growing MonStar roster.
After the intro, the title track truly opens the whole thing with a nocturnal trap ballad so they can talk about taking over the rap game whereas “Can’t Stop Us” works in some luxurious keys & hi-hats making it known that MonStar is a force to be reckoned with. “Black Sheep” dives into cloudier turf referring to themselves as the underdogs while the song “Another Level” laces a booming trap instrumental addressing their elevation. The penultimate track “Heavy” blends these hi-hats with some whistling flexing about the noise they make & “Soldier’s Code” closes it all out with a vulnerable trap ballad bracing for the fight that’ll soothe the soul.
Even though MonStar’s been around for 9 years, most of us were introduced to them through Lyte’s brief tenure under the Insane Clown Posse’s mentorship & to hear the whole current roster together like this gives me the feeling that it’s only the beginning of the Flint label’s rise in the underground. The production’s more trap based, each artist has their own distinct characteristics to them & they all ping off one another naturally throughout.
This is the debut EP from Japanese-American transplant 8tari. Born in Tokyo, she moved to New York as a child & began piano lessons before returning to Japan at when she was 12. However, a freak accident with a prototype blockchain connected gashapon machine outside of a keki shop near Takeshita Street resulted in 8tari being decentralized & becoming an NFT. Lost in the network & no longer able to physically touch a piano, she began making beats that soon began to fill the back streets of Shibuya after down-resizing them for transmission at human audible levels. Renown west coast producer DJ Muggs eventually took 8tari under his wing & is producing her debut EP in full.
“Neon Sunburn” is a dreary piano opener to the EP that I can only visualize serving as the soundtrack to a rainy ass day whereas “The Guns of Brixton” continues on with a lo-fi instrumental cover of the Clash song of the same name off their iconic 3rd album London Calling. The penultimate track “Paradise” has a more climactic vibe to it almost as if it were playing in the background of an important scene to a really good movie leading into “Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault” ending the EP with another cover except this time it’s the joint off Jawbreaker’s 4th & final album Dear You.
What we have on Lofi Punk here is essentially Muggs dabbling with chillhop for a duration of 4-songs, 15 minutes & it makes me wonder if he plans on traveling further down this rabbit hole in the future because it’s a really interesting change of pace for the seasoned west coast producer. The covers truly make the EP live up to it’s name, but the 2 original compositions are an even better homage to the style pioneered by the late Nujabes.
This is the 25th EP from New Orleans duo the $uicideboy$. Consisting of Ruby da Cherry & $crim, these guys released a plethora of projects within the last decade whether it be the Kill Your$elf saga & Eternal Grey or even I WANNA DIE IN NEW ORLEANS & the Travis Barker-produced Live Fast, Die Whenever. The boy$’ just dropped their last album Sing Me a Lullaby, My Sweet Temptation over the summer & are now coming off the EP they dropped last weekend Yin Yang Tapes: Spring Season for the sequel Summer Season.
After the intro, the first song “5 ‘n the Mornin’” is an occult trap opener with the boy$ declaring that players never die while the penultimate track “Starry 9” has more of a Memphis-inspired sound to it à la one of my all-time favorite groups & one of the Nawlins duo’s biggest inspirations Three 6 Mafia sonically so they can rep the 7th ward. “Bloody ‘98” featuring Ghostmane concludes the first half of the Yin Yang Tapes tetralogy with the trio collaborating for the first time with a demonic trap closer & all 3 MCs gelling with one another better than one would anticipate discussing their killer instincts.
I can only assume Fall is coming next Friday & eventually Winter the weekend after, but I really can’t complain because this is a tad bit superior to Spring in my personal opinion & it has me anticipating the 6 songs from the other 2 installments later on in the month ahead of Grey Sheep III afterwards. Blanco & Wetto continue to build upon the cloudy trap sounds of the predecessor with their production here as they keep spitting some gangsta-laced braggadocio for us to vibe to in time for next month.
This is the 3rd EP from New Jersey rapper, producer & singer-songwriter Russ. Dropping off a total of 11 mixtapes on SoundCloud from 2011 up to 2014, he wound up signing Columbia Records a couple years later & made his full-length debut last year with There’s Really a Wolf. Quickly becoming one of hip hop’s most polarizing figures in recent memory in the process by being a “fake activist” against drugs & then there’s his infamous 2016 interview with DJ Vlad the culture vulture where he literally said “we need to blame producers for all the wack music today”. His 2018 follow-up ZOO kinda caught my interest due to“The Flute Song”, but the end result of it being taken over by this annoyingly bitter demeanor. Shake the Snowglobe was slightly better & his debut EP CHOMP in 2020 ended up being his best work so far, although it’s because the features & producers carried. Funny enough, the same thing happened on the sequel a year & a half ago. But to prelude the 3rd installment, he’s rockin’ it by himself on CHOMP 2.5.
“Wicked Race”’ is a self-produced opener with no real stand-out lines even though the instrumental that he cooks up here is actually pretty decent whereas “Blow the Whistle” calls this a warmup to CHOMP 3 dropping this summer & even though Statik Selektah’s boom bap production is groovy, bars like “Stand tall like who? Like Tyler” & that he “never had to chase clout or do a bunch of weird shit” when he started to blow by constantly making a narcissistically bitter ass-hat of himself.
The “Buckle Up Freestyle” is more sample-based courtesy of Havoc talking about calling himself out on my bullshit & luckily he picked up, which I’m actually happy to hear him acknowledge that because it takes a real man to own up to his mistakes & don’t have any personal vendetta against the guy whatsoever. “Easy” weaves in some soulful chops from The Alchemist talking about showin’ why no one can fuck with him lyrically even though he literally made a whole fuckin’ tape where the features outshined him although the self-improvement line I felt was sincere.
“Reflection” has a more summery vibe to it thanks to Boi-1da & the melodic delivery that Russ executes here just isn’t doing it for me at all which is a shame considering it’s overall theme of rarely getting a second to put himself first. “Perfectionist” closes out the EP with a soulful boom bap ballad that 9th Wonder cooked up confessing that he had 32 sessions with a therapist about being a recovering purist although the “in my Depeche Mode” line was cringe.
Although the first 2 installments of the CHOMP series were loaded with guest verses, the fact that Russ took the risk of proving that he doesn’t need features for a project to be good is admirable. However, this is as average as the predecessors. The production is remarkable, but the songwriting & performances from Russ himself are both mid at best. That being said though: I can’t deny that he’s trying to improve himself both artistically & personally and continue to hope for that down the road.
This is the 8th EP from Los Angeles underground mainstay Pawz 1. Breaking out in 2014 off the strength of his full-length debut Face the Facts, he would go on to add a couple more albums & 7 EPs under his belt with the last we heard from him being Random Acts of Violence’s eponymous debut EP last spring, but his returning solo solo in the form of Persona Non Grata ahead of him opening up for Cormega at Catch 1 in Los Angeles a couple months from now.
“Sepekku” is a gully boom bap opener giving all phony fans the finger saying he don’t need them anyway whereas the “Out of Bounds” remix featuring MC Eiht & Ras Kass is superior to the original we heard on his last full-length Watch & Learn. “Welcome Home” has a summery boom bap quality talking about the streets having good intentions prior to the title track has a playful vibe with some kicks & snares saying respect ain’t worth what it used to be.
Meanwhile, “Bad News” starts the final leg of the EP weaves in a twinkling boom bap beat so he can admit that he’d probably be afraid of himself too just before the “Cross Fire” remix keeps it dusty talking about how it be like the roads in the hood. The song “Good with That” gives off a richer groove speaking on learning to accept that things ain’t always gonna be good while the penultimate track “Still” ruggedly says fuck you to all his critics & doubters. We then get treated to the original version of “Cross Fire” which is dope, but prefer the remix a bit more.
As somebody who’s been a fan of Pawz since his debut dropped my junior year of high school, this EP is no question my favorite of his in a while & quite possibly the best body of work that he’s put out in this current decade. The production stays grounded in the traditional boom bap sound as he makes a statement in regards to his surroundings & the music business altogether basically telling any 2-face snake to fuck off.
The $uicideboy$ are a hip hop duo from New Orleans, Louisiana consisting of Ruby da Cherry & $crim. For almost a decade now, these guys released a plethora of projects whether it be the Kill Your$elf saga & Eternal Grey or even I WANNA DIE IN NEW ORLEANS & the Travis Barker-produced Live Fast, Die Whenever. The boy$’ just dropped their last album Sing Me a Lullaby, My Sweet Temptation over the summer & are now coming off the collaborative Shameless $uicide with G*59 Record$ signee Shakewell by ringing in the warmer weather with their 24th EP.
After the “Spring Season” intro, the first of 3 songs that we get here “Hot Razor” sets off the whole EP with a Memphis rap banger keeping it gangsta as a motherfucker while the penultimate track “Realism vs. Idealism” comes through with a straight up dirty south vibe as they talk about squeezin’ like they fiendin’ for a reason to give up & asking where your Makaveli is. “Château Gris” though finishes things up with a quirky yet cloudy trap jam admitting they be psychopathic with the 9 & that they be heaven sent.
They’re saying we’re getting a 3rd installment of the Grey Sheep series at some point this summer & for the boy$ to celebrate spring by giving us a 10-minute kickoff to the Yin Yang Tapes series is a fine way to hold everyone off until it’s time to complete the trilogy the way they started it. The production remains grounded in the duo’s southern roots as they stick to their guns (no pun intended) covering the usual topics that one would expect going into one or their projects.
This is the 2nd EP from Brooklyn emcee, singer & producer Q-Unique. Emerging as 1/4 of the Arsonists & the lead singer of the 3-man hard rock outfit Stillwill, he’s also built up impressive solo discography for himself since the Uncle Howie Records-backed Vengeance is Mine nearly 2 decades back at this point. He would follow it up the previous decade with Between Heaven & Hell alongside BlaQ Coffee and The Mechanic, but is returning after nearly 5-years to have Stillwill bassist Fieldy of KoЯn fame to produce Pound for Pound in full.
“Thank You” by Stillwell starts off the EP with a cinematic boom bap instrumental by showing his gratitude the best way possible whereas “I Believe It’s Getting Better” is a opener ballad about a young brother being put on hold. “Torch Them All” is a Bollywood/boom bap hybrid grabbing the automatic from the corner store just before “Free” keeps it in the basement as far as sound goes talking about being imprisoned by his own thoughts. The song “Danger Room” takes a more menacing approach sonically robbing suckas for their bounty while the penultimate track “Blackout” hooks up some synths, kicks & snares being on his kung fu hustle. The ominous closer “Knevil Reeves” ties up the EP making it known that he has plenty of gas left in the tank.
As someone who loved Vengeance is Mine during his adolescence, it’s most certainly safe to say that Pound for Pound will quickly go down as the best EP in Q’s catalog & one of his best solo projects ever. The production that he & Fieldy cook up is the most consistent batch of beats that he’s hopped on top of in a while as the Brooklyn lyricist sounds incredibly-laser focused proving that he’s still got it lyrically after all these decades in the game.