Isaac Castor – “The Rabbit Hole 2” review

This is the long-awaited sophomore album from Detroit emcee Isaac Castor. Coming up in 2010 under the original moniker Gameboi, he would go on drop 4 mixtapes & 3 EPs prior to signing to the local underground hip hop powerhouse Middle Finger Music following its formation 8 years later. He then enlisted the label’s co-founder Foul Mouth behind the boards for his full-length debut The Rabbit Hole a month after the world stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic & both parties are reuniting to deliver a sequel in light of the predecessor’s 3-year anniversary in just a couple months.

“The Sequel” is a psychedelic boom bap opener with Isaac responding to those asking where he’s been all this time prior to Marv Won assisting him on “75 South” talking about how nobody puts it down the way they do accompanied by some keys, kicks & snares. “Eye See” has a more sample-based sound basically touching on life being as wonderful as it is & destined for greatness leading into the dusty “Admit It” comparing his raps to that of pure, uncut coke.

Moving onto “Tourniquet”, we have the Gameboi over a darker instrumental talking about pulling up to murder shit just before Jypsy tags along for the bluesy “Vamanos Pest” dropping some lethal bars for anyone who dares to step up to either one of them in a rap battle. “Nosebleeds” dives into more jazzier territory encouraging the goofy asses to walk back, but then “Cliffhanger” returns to the boom bap once again getting loose at the venues they shut down.

Dango Forlaine & Ronnie Alpha both tag along for the cutthroat “Napalm 8Ball” so all 3 MCs can flex their lyrical prowesses while “Smoke All Night” switches things up with a mystic trap beat & the subject matter of Isaac professing his love for weed is relatable to any stoner including myself. “Power of the Mind” instrumentally has a bit of a J Dilla influence to it advising that one is unable to front on titular topic while “Riddim” with Bang Belushi has a woozily dope sample flip as the pair go on to belittle their opposition.

Meanwhile with “Fall from Grace”, the production & DJ Skyrah’s hypnotic chorus give me quite a bit of Portishead vibes setting the course for Speak of the Devil’s upcoming debut as Xtra Overdoze joins Isaac talk about being stitched together kin to pain & pleasure while “Grand Prix” with Fatt Father & Guilty Simpson is a rock/boom bap crossover with a Pink Floyd sample toasting champagne off the Grand Haven Pier as long as his people are by his side. The song “Studio Vibe” with Bizarre is a mellower cut bringing exactly that while the crooning penultimate track “Still in the Hole” admits he’s finding the steps to climb out to the hole he’s still in. “Yes (Intro in Reverse)” comes through with a horn-inflicted closer attacking wack rappers 1 last time.

Considering the 3 year gap between this & the Gameboi’s full-length debut, it had me anticipating to hear how much dude has grown as artist since then & I happen to enjoy this sequel as much if not more than predecessor. Isaac sounds even hungrier than he did last time with the features all being as well-picked & the production that Foul Mouth cooks up is more eclectic in sound from boom bap to jazz rap & trap. Middle Finger Music always has something exciting going on & The Rabbit Hole 2 is just the beginning of their 2023.

Score: 4/5

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Bizarre – “He Got a Gun” review

Bizarre is a 45 year old MC from Detroit, Michigan who came up as an original member of the now defunct D12 led by the late Proof. He was also among the first in the crew to put out solo efforts, with his 1998 debut EP Attack of the Weirdos being a hometown classic in my eyes. Fast forward 7 years later, Biz followed it up with a worthy full-length debut Hannicap Circus & has continued to put out music on his own since, with the last time we heard him being his 10th mixtape Peter this past winter. But for his 5th album, the idiotic kid is bringing in one of the city’s greatest producers Foul Mouth behind the boards for the whole thing.

“Uzi” is a soulful boom bap opener with Bizarre going at the throats of anyone who wants to step up to him lyrically whereas “Hecker” with Kool Keith takes a grimier route talking about how they’re just built different. “Gauge” works in some strings reminding everyone he doesn’t think realistically just before Dope D.O.D. tags along for the dusty “Desert E” talking about how dangerous they are.

Meanwhile on “MG3”, we have Kain Cole joining Bizzy over some pianos admitting that they just wanna fly leading into “XM307 (Night Shift)” throwing a soul sample into the mix talking about him looking forward to his bitch clocking out of work as she comes in during the evenings. “FN” returns to boom bap turf asking if people are really living what they’re rapping & after the first of 2 skits, “9MM” shoots for a more psychedelic sound telling the story of his sex life.

NEMS & Young Z both come into the picture for the gully “25” to get ignorant on the mic while “Smith & Wesson” with the homies Dango Forlaine, Nick Speed, Ty Farris & 7 the General finds the quartet over some keys for an incredible Detroit posse cut. “AS50” encourages listeners to run because you don’t wanna get shot by him over an uncanny beat, but then “Dillinger” fuses elements of rock & boom bap talking about fucking up people outside.

Following that, Guilty Simpson & Mvck Nyce join Bizarre for the forlorn “Saw Off” to apply pressure while “45” incorporates a guitar talking about coming from the gutter. “Glock (College Bitch)” is one of the weaker cuts on the album despite it’s soulful production due to it’s subject matter about fucking bitches that’re over 2 decades younger than him & after the “Coney Island” skit, “Detroit” picks it up with a raw ode to the city. Prior to the outro though, “Rusty 38” with Big T ends the album on a chaotic note delivering that raw hip hop.

A lot of people like to dismiss Bizarre as an MC, but I came away from He Got a Gun liking it just as much as Attack of the Weirdos & Hannicap Circus. Easily some of the best work of his career in my opinion. There are a couple lackluster features & song topics throughout, but Foul Mouth’s production doesn’t miss a step & Peter S. himself has a fire under his ass lyrically.

Score: 4.5/5

Kain Cole – “S.U.M.P. (Survival Under Major Pressure)” review

Kain Cole is a 38 year old MC from Belleville, Michigan who’s been in the game since he was in high school. He then perfected his craft after spending 8 years in prison but now that he’s out, it makes perfect sense for one of the hottest labels in the underground Middle Finger Music to sign him & have co-founder Foul Mouth produce his full-length debut from start to finish.

“The Arrival” sets the album off with a drumless yet buzzing instrumental letting motherfuckers know he’s officially here whereas “The Bag” works in some suspenseful keyboards & dusty drums getting in his hustler bag. “Ain’t My Home” takes a more soulful route looking back on the days when he was locked up just before “L.M.K. (Let Me Know)” has a bluesy quality to it talking about being back in his old ways.

Meanwhile on “Feel This Way”, we have Kain jumping on top of a grimy boom bap beat confessing that he has no idea why he feels the way he does leading into the disgusting drug dealer’s ode “Kain”. Things go into a funkier direction for “Have You Ever” talking about being one of a kind, but then “Fuck ‘Em If They Mad” takes a more alluring turn clapping back at those who’re envious of him.

“Run Away” weaves in a perfect vocal loop talking about how he has to find another way whereas “Rock n Roll” returns to boom bap territory letting listeners know how reckless he truly is. “K Cole Shit” gets in his battle rap bag with the instrumental taking it back to the days of 70’s action films just before the eerie “D.O.G (Definition Of Greatness)” speaks for itself lyrically.

Following this, “Do My Thang” brings in the horns to talk about how all he does is own thing while the track “Church” has a more colorful tone to the beat encouraging listeners to praise God after him. The penultimate song “Count Stacks” comes off as a sequel to “The Bag” that lives up to the predecessor & the title track sends the album off with a synth-laced instrumental talking about how no one can knock him down.

It’s always exciting when a Middle Finger Music artists drops an album & even more so when they add fresh new faces to the roster because S.U.M.P. (Survival Under Major Pressure) definitely surpassed my expectations even though they were high to begin with. Kain sounds hungry as fuck on the mic & Foul Mouth cooks up some of the best production of his career thus far.

Score: 4/5

Blizzard – “Duel with Death” review

Blizzard is a 29 year old artist from Detroit, Michigan notable for co-founding the Yung Fam Mafia back in 2007 & more recently becoming an in-house producer for Middle Finger Music a little while after it’s inception. But to celebrate his born day, he’s treating fans to a full-length debut showcasing his production skills & bringing along a promising lineup of local MCs.

After the “Tao of Death” intro, the title track by Aztec the Barfly & Kid Vishis starts the album off with some angry battle bars on top of dusty drums & a haunting soul sample whereas “Flying Guillotine” by J-Classic & Ty Farris eerily proclaims themselves as the last of a dying breed. “Barrage of Tigers” by the Twin Towers vaingloriously stomps at their opposition’s necks leading into an operatic instrumental being worked in on “8 Gates” for Big Herk, Hatch & P.L. to talk their shit.

Meanwhile on “Lotus Leaf”, we have Blizzard taking things into a jazzier direction as A-Minus & Finale to talk about letting the hate in their hearts go just before the piano-tinged “Drunken Boxing” by Bang Belushi & Vstylez speaks on holding it down for their city. “Konichi Death Squad” by Crimson Alchemist & Miz Korona brings in some horns to quench for blood, but then “Pray 4 Death” by Spoda uncannily gets on his ignorant shit.

The song “Praying Mantis” by 2 Door Coupé has a bit of a chipmunk soul flare reminding everyone that Middle Finger Music is taking over the game while the penultimate track “Slummz” by Guilty Simpson briefly but powerfully details what it’s like in his hood. “Like Water” by Isaac Castor & even Blizzard himself then finishes the album off on some spacey boom bap shit saying this ain’t for amateurs.

Of all the producer album that I’ve heard this year, I think Duel with Death could very well be the best one of them all. I love that Blizzard demonstrates his versatility behind the boards & how he brought in everyone from the OGs to the newcomers to let them do what they do best on the mic.

Score: 4/5

Bang Belushi – “Belushi on Ghawd” review

Bang Belushi is a 43 year old MC from Detroit, Michigan emerging as as 1/4 of the world famous Fat Killahz. However, it wouldn’t be until 2011 when the veteran branched out solo by releasing his debut EP The Bridgecard. This was followed up with help yourself. in 2017, but then he signed to Middle Finger Music & put out his Foul Mouth-produced debut album The Adventures of Bang Belushi at the tail-end of the following year. The pair reunited for Rudy back in March & now Bango is enlisting Wavy da Ghawd for his 3rd full-length outing right here.

The intro kicks things off with grimy instrumental & with him saying you’ll go crazy hearing this whereas “Barz” works in a fresh reggae sample to flex his lyrical prowess. “Radio Flow” has some great horn loops to get on his fly shit just before J-Classic & Marv Won come into the picture on the flute heavy “New Pac” saying they feelin’ like the iconic MC of the same name.

Meanwhile with “Run Shit”, we go into more orchestral territory for Bango proclaiming he’s taking over the rap game leading into “$1” working in an organ-heavy instrumental. “Knuckle Up” with Ketch P & Rim is of course a gully moshpit starter whereas “Here We Go” enlists Kain Cole to ominously get on the battle tip.

The song “Shoe Game Crazy” is a slick ode to Bang’s documented love for sneakers while the penultimate track “Hardcore” with Pro Dillinger finds the 2 calling out those puttin’ on a front over a funky beat. “Lights, Camera Action” then serves as a touching closer with it’s string samples & the reflective lyrics.

Didn’t expect Bango to put out a follow-up this quickly, but I’m glad he did because I enjoyed this almost as much as his first 2 albums. He sounds focused, the songwriting is as witty as ever & Wavy’s production is a good fit given the fact that a good portion of Middle Finger Music’s output goes for that New York boom bap sound.

Score: 3.5/5

Fatt Father – “Soccer Dad” review

This is the 5th full-length outing from Detroit emcee Fatt Father. Coming up as 1/4 of the world famous Fat Killahz, he eventually went solo in 2006 off his debut mixtape Tales of the Childless Father. Going on to release 3 more tapes along with 4 albums, it’s only right for Fatts to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of his previous effort King Father by dropping the long-awaited

The “Raging Angel” intro kicks off with a gospel sample as Fatt Father celebrates being reinstated whereas “The Commute” details being pulled over by a cop taking his son to a soccer game over a boom bap beat with a heavy guitar. The title track is a grimy follow-up that let’s the listener know who they be fucking with while the soul sample-laced “Stick to the Script” comes through with that grown man spiritual street corner material”.

The song “Head Shot” in pirates some organs as the Twin Towers & Tone Plummer go at those running they mouths while “Papa Free” is simply just Fatts getting a lot of shit off his chest for 3-minutes backed by a relaying vocal sample. “The Price of Freedom” of course gets on the conscious side of things with a fitting rock loop whereas “Smoke” is an up-tempo banger about how you ain’t want beef with him.

Meanwhile on “Underground Ballin’”, we get a charismatic anthem about how underground MCs can ball as much as the mainstream cats can whereas “Party of 1” talks about taking off heads over a deadly instrumental. The song “Do Better” is a cinematic cut tackling daily self-improvement while “#1” goes into a more trap direction with lyrics about failure not being an option. The song “In All Fairness” brings in some hi-hats & catchy vocal harmonies to say he ain’t do nobody wrong, but then “Truth” serves as a well-written response to those people with a dusty boom bap beat incorporating icy keyboard melodies.

I’ve been waiting on this album for almost 2 years now & I’m glad the day has finally come because this could very well be the best thing Fatt Father has ever done. A lot of the same reasons I enjoyed Bang Belushi’s latest album Rudy make it’s way onto here, especially the personal lyricism & the eclectic sounds Foul Mouth uses throughout.

Score: 9/10

Bang Belushi – “Rudy” review

This is the sophomore album from Detroit emcee Bang Belushi. Coming up as 1/4 of the world famous Fat Killahz, it wouldn’t be until 2011 when the veteran branched out solo by releasing his debut EP The Bridgecard as well as the help yourself. EP in 2017. But it wouldn’t be until the following year when Bango signed to Middle Finger Music & dropped his full-length debut The Adventures of Bang Belushi, which in my opinion was a near-flawless showcasing of his lyrical abilities over some of the grimiest production Foul Mouth has ever cooked up. However, the pair is reuniting for Belushi’s long-awaited sophomore album.

“The Opening” that starts the album off gives listeners the blueprint to being great over an entrancing loop whereas the title track talks about how amazing he is over an unhinged boom bap beat. The song right after “It’s Going Down” talks about how they get it poppin’ over an instrumental kin to the late J Dilla while the track “Bar 4 Bar” with 2 Door Coupé finds the 3 talking about Middle Finger Music taking over the game over some horns & a bass-line.

The song “Dumb” talks about how disrespectful he is over a noisy instrumental while the track “N****z Like You” with Bub Rock sees the duo talking about those who’ll do anything for respect over some drums & piano arpeggios. The song “Red Bottlez” talks about being drunk as fuck over some keys & snares while the track “Murder” with J-Classic & Xtra Overdoze finds the 3 getting on the horrorcore side of things over a trap beat.

The song “Smoking Section” with Boom2G, Bub Rock, Pahlavi & Roc Danielz sees the quintet talking about getting money & staying low over a dingy loop while the track “Mark, Set, Go” with Isaac Castor finds the 2 talking about their skills over a wistful boom bap beat. The song “B is for Bang” breaks down the meaning of the moniker Bang over a flute sample while the track “Feeling Like Biggie” is a rugged sequel to “Feeling Like ODB” off The Adventures of Bang Belushi on all fronts.

The song “Such & Such” talks about a bitch he used to know over an amiable instrumental while the track “Nobody” talks about how there isn’t anyone else like him over a boom bap beat with a glossy piano loop. The song “Watermelon Red Bull” talks about how he refers to his AK as “Big Daddy Kane” over some prominent organs while the outro talks about feeling like they won’t recognize his skills until he’s gone over a beat kin to College Dropout-era Kanye West.

The Adventures of Bang Belushi is one of my favorite albums that Middle Finger Music has ever put out & this is almost as great of a follow-up. The lyrics on here are much more personal than they were last time & the sounds that Foul Mouth bring to the table are bit more diverse.

Score: 4/5

Jypsy – “Born wit It” review

Jypsy is a 38 year old MC from Inkster, Michigan who came up as a member of the trio Street Justice. He eventually branched out solo in 2017 off the single “Gotta Go” & signed to Middle Finger Music a couple years later. But as the first month of 2021 draws to a close, Jypsy is finally coming through with his debut album.

“The Intro(vert)” that kicks the album off is him venting about a number of things over a jazzy beat from Foul Mouth whereas the next song “The Greatest” talks about wanting to better than just average over a Peace of Mind instrumental that almost has a Bollywood feel to it. The track “Son of a Preacher Son” talks about being a monster over a diabolical boom bap beat while the song “Cigar Lounge” with Isaac Castor finds the 2 talking about weed over a drumless yet tranquil instrumental.

“The Crown” by 2 Door Coupé sees the duo talking about gossipers over a lo-fi beat from Nolan the Ninja while the song “Gelato #41” with Bub Rock finds the 2 getting sexual over a Jimbo Slice instrumental that samples “You Can’t Turn Me Away” by Sylvia Striplin. The track “Never Hesitant” talks about being a king over a nefarious beat while “The Sleeper” sees 2 Door Coupé teaming up with Bang Belushi & Kain to spit battle bars over a sole whistling loop.

The song “Warriors” with Fatt Father & Kid Vishis finds the trio continuing to shit-talk over a demonic beat while the penultimate track “Heavy D” talks about keeping his circle small over a spacious trap instrumental. The album ends with “Restless”, where Jypsy talks about taking his own way to get where he’s going over an uneasy boom bap beat.

I’ve been wanting to hear how Jyp would sound on an album of his own given his features throughout the past year or so & now that we finally got it, I’m impressed. He’s at his best lyrically & I really dig how the sound ranges from jazz samples to trap.

Score: 4/5

Ketch P – “Untitled” review

Ketch P is a 40 year old MC from Inkster, Michigan who started off as part of the quartet Street Justice. He eventually went solo & put out 3 mixtapes in the late 2000s, but Ketch took a hiatus in 2013 & returned last fall by dropping the fantastic comeback tape Gift Certificate under Middle Finger Music. This was followed up a couple months ago with the full-length Out of Nowhere but almost 3 months later, he’s surprise-dropping an untitled EP that he recorded with Black Milk about a decade ago.

Things start off with “Barricade ’08”, where Ketch spits about being the livest over soulful beat. “The Virus” with Guilty Simpson sees the 2 comparing their music to that of a sickness over a grimy instrumental while the song “Grind Mode” talks about hustling over a suspenseful boom bap beat. The penultimate track “Shut the Phuck Up!!” sends a message to all the haters out there over an instrumental with some beautiful background vocals talks about & then the closer “My Detroit” with eLZhi & Trick-Trick finds the trio paying tribute to their hometown over a churchy beat.

Man even though the material on here is 10 years old, it sounds like they made it earlier this year because these joints in 2020 still sound really good. Black Milk kills it on the boards as he usually does & Ketch P’s lyricism is just as raw as he is today. Looking forward to the albums he has with Bad News Brown & 2 Door Coupé.

Score: 4/5

Isaac Castor – “The Rabbit Hole” review

Isaac Castor is a 24 year old rapper from Ann Arbor, Michigan who I first caught wind of through his association with Middle Finger Music a few years ago. He eventually landed a contract with the label & now he’s hooking up with it’s co-founder Foul Mouth for his full-length debut.

The album kicks off with “Homesick”, where Isaac talks about how he’s ready to take over the game & I love the meditative boom bap production as well. The next song “Retrospect” with Bub Rock sees the 2 reflecting about their past & how they’re doing better now over a beautiful soul sample while “The Sickness” charismatically shows off his skills over an organ-inflicted boom bap beat. The song “Regal” talks about how raw his music is over an instrumental that sounds like something RZA would’ve made in the 90’s while the track “Fire Drill” talks about being built for this over a jazzy boom bap beat.

The song “Headless Horsemen” with Fatt Father & J-Classic sees the 3 challenging their competition over a boom bap beat with a psychedelic guitar lead while the title track talks about partying over a woozy beat. The song “Name 5 Songs” talks about groupies over a fast-tempo trap beat while the track “Guess What?” talks about this girl he was seeing running off with another guy over a funky beat. The song “That Ain’t Love” pays tribute to those who’ve been heartbroken over a boom bap beat with some somber piano chords while the track “Paramount” with A-Minus sees the 2 talking about earning their stripes over an upbeat instrumental.

The song “Green Pill” with Aztek the Barfly sees the 2 talking about how no one’s on their level over a suspenseful instrumental while the penultimate track “Can’t Decide” talks about his demons over some strings. The album finishes off with “Challenged”, where Isaac talks about being blessed in the moment over an energetic beat.

What a fantastic debut. Foul Mouth reminds us why he’s my favorite producer out in Detroit with his versatile sound whereas Isaac really shines on here as his pen-game sounds smarter than ever & you really get a good look at who he is as a whole. Really looking forward to watch him grow in the future & to see what else Middle Finger Music has in store for the new decade.

Score: 4/5