Leedz Edutainment – “A Worker Among Workers” review

Leedz Edutainment is an underground record label based in Boston, Massachusetts that has been around for a little over decade now. They already have a quite a few showcase compilations under their belt already with the Mass Movementz duology as well as the Write Off tetralogy & Eastern Standard, but are kicking off the summer by returning in the form of A Worker Among Workers.

After the “Introview”, the first song “Edutainment” by S.T.R.E.E.T. is a triumphant boom bap opener asking if y’all are entertained or not whereas “Hustlenomics” by XL the Beast works in some pianos to declare that you’re in the presence of a monolith. “Massive” by REKS, Slaine & STL GLD has a more rowdier tone to it with the trio talking about doing that shit & after the “Threat” skit, “Demons At Your Door” by Reef the Lost Cauze & Wildcard takes a turn into trap territory asking what you gonna do when your demons want war.

“Hands of Time” by Blak Madeen & Smif-n-Wessun finds the trio coming together over bass-guitar laced instrumental to discuss the concept of time & after the “It’s All Hip Hop” interlude, “Heavy Decorated” by Ace & Edo, Akrobatik, Bugout & El Da Sensei sees the 5 asking what your life like over a soulful boom bap beat. “The Rent’s Due” by A-F-R-O, Jarv & Spose vibrantly explains the reason why they had to make another jam just before “Lyrical Plunger” digs up an old freestyle from 1999 that still sounds fresh today.

Meanwhile on “You Still Gotta Rap”, we have Checkmark & The Dunnas delivering some battle bars accompanied by a quasi-funky groove to the instrumental leading into the Parker & Leedz interlude. “Once Upon a Time” by Jon Hope & Skyzoo is a fresh piano ballad discussing what hip hop is to them, but then Blak Madeen recruits the late Baba Zumbi & Locksmith for the socially conscious “Rise Up” remix that I like better than the original.

“Stuck in My Way” by Peter Manns embraces a more deadpan tone confessing he hasn’t been himself in days while “Spiritual Awakening” by Pvth, Ren Thomas & Vincent Tesoro marks the return of the boom bap to represent God. After the “Hustling in the Wrong Direction” interlude, “Tools of the Trade” by Lateb is a guitar/boom bap fusion talking about finding their way while “Dark Magic” goes full rap rock so Jazzmyn Red can address ego someone’s ego not allowing one to be set free. After the “Results Business” interlude, the final song “Feed the Fire” by XL the Beast ends the album with a more atmospheric ballad pouring his heart about how it’ll all pay off & “Thanks For Coming In” is just a spoken word outro.

I’ve enjoyed every single compilation that Leedz has put out in the last 15 years or so, but A Worker Among Workers honestly has to be my favorite one of the bunch thus far. The Arcitype did a fine job at producing a vast majority of it & the list of guest MCs that the label brings together to do their thing on the mic is pretty consistent.

Score: 3.5/5

XL the Beast – “Heavy Hands” review

XL the Beast is a 47 year old MC from Boston, Massachusetts who was formerly apart of a local group called The Kreators. However after dropping a slew of singles, he’s finally ready to unleash his full-length solo debut to the masses that has been in the making for almost 15 years.

“Reawakening” is ass-kicking opener from the rock-influenced production from The Arcitype to XL’s threatening lyricism whereas the Skyzoo-assisted “The World Today” gets on the conscious side of things on top of a horn-inflicted boom bap instrumental from Shuko. We get a surprise appearance from Heltah Skeltah on the roomy & appropriately titled “Credibility” just before fellow Boston native Slaine helps get on the introspective tip for the glistening “Wreckage of My Past”.

Meanwhile, we get an emotional look at a fraction of the man he used to be on the downhearted “Choices” before angrily getting in his shit-talking bag for “Apocalypse”. The organ-loop on “Sucker Punch” is a nice touch as REKS & Rock come into talk about throwing their opponents off guard & even though “Dead Ends” has my favorite hook on the album, the Moe Pope feature is just ok.

The song “Desolation” jumps on top of a spine-tingling instrumental to talk about feeling barren just before Shabaam Sahdeeq accompanies XL for “Fan of the Week”, where both parties talk about bringing the smoke. “Distorted Facts” has a sporadic feel to it sonically as Vice Versah & Moroney come in to address themselves as sick fucks with twisted thoughts while Domingo brings in some guitars for the braggadocious “$100 Bill”.

“Paper Champions” with Esoteric & Checkmark is of course a symphonic battle rap cut while XL & Big Shug talk about getting it in on the dusty “Writer’s Block”. The penultimate track “The Rain” gets romantic on top of a piano & a flute, but then the closer “See You Again” with G-Squared is a touching tribute to their homie Big Juan.

Coming away from Heavy Hands, I’m pretty impressed with it. The features are either hit or miss (for me personally anyway), but the diversity of it is very admirable & I feel like you get a good look at who XL is both artistically & personally.

Score: 3.5/5