T.F. – “Blame Kansas” review

T.F. is a 36 year old MC from Los Angeles, California who I first heard after he was featured on “Tookie Knows, Pt. II” off ScHoolboy Q’s magnum opus Blank Face LP. He then dropped his debut EP No Hooks only 7 months later, which was followed up by his full-length debut ErThangSkanless & then a 2nd EP called OktoberFest. Then after appearing on Flee Lord’s 8th EP Hand Me My Flowers produced entirely by Buckwild & put out 2 more EPs on his own, T.F. eventually signed to Lord Mobb Music & dropped his sophomore effort Skanless Summer last spring. But now after releasing Big Moon a few months back, T.F. is back in effect for his 3rd album produced by Mephux & Roc Marciano.

The title track sets off the album with a pillowy boom bap cut talking about violence coming from everyday arguments whereas “Olathe” with Conway the Machine & Roc Marciano finds the trio on top of a narcocorrido sample getting in their mafioso bag. BVNGS tags along for “Death Wish” to talk about needing to be killed if you ain’t loyal to the game on top of a despondent beat just before “Crash Bandicoot” goes into a jazzier direction saying he’s been focused lately as well as doing it for the dead ones.

After the “Intermission” interlude, we have Crimeapple coming into the picture for “Friend of God” working in a Spanish vocal loop spitting that g shit leading into the Lil Bunko-assisted “Cuban Links” taking a more climatic route as far as Marci’s production goes saying you gotta talk to God instead of them. The song “Betty Crocker” of courses gets back on the drug dealer tip over an eerie sample while the penultimate track “Long Way Home” with Zoo jumps into drumless territory talking about the rate they’re going. “Fuck the Rest” with Flee Lord then ends the album with an orchestral loop talking not fucking with anyone but his homies.

If you’ve enjoyed T.F.’s features in the past & are looking to get into his solo work, then Blame Kansas would be a great introduction in my personal opinion. There are a couple of lackluster features, but a good majority do a good job at breaking up any monotony & the dude himself sounds hungrier than ever. On top of that, both Mephux & Roc absolutely SCHOOL it behind the boards.

Score: 4/5

Bronze Nazareth – “Ekphrasis” review

This is the 4th full-length album from Grand Rapids emcee/producer Bronze Nazareth. Coming up as a member of the group Wisemen alongside his late brother Kevlaar 7 & eventually the Wu-Tang Clan’s in-house production team the Wu-Elements, he would also go on to build a solo career for himself beginning with The Great Migration in ‘06 & then School for the Blindman only 5 years later. But after returning from a decade-long hiatus at the end of January by enlisting The 4 Owls’ very own Leaf Dog to produce Bundle Raps from front to back, Bronze is already kicking off the 4th quarter of 2021 by dropping a follow-up produced entirely by New York titan Roc Marciano.

After the “Proem” intro, the first song “Crazy Horse” starts the album off with a little bit of a jazzy quality to it speaking of something in his spirit burning whereas “The Precipice” takes a grimier route saying you can bet them on the cliff. Skyzoo tags along with Brizz Rawsteen & Termanology on the synth-laced “Brass Jehova” to get on their battle shit but after the “Refocus” skit, the vocal sample that “Survivor’s Vow” is entrancing as fuck saying he has to live it up.

After the “Kevlaar” interlude, Fashawn comes into the picture for the bluesy “Fanta 6” to impressively spit back & forth with Bronze while the track “Kettle Black” with Lord Jessiah brings in a violin addressing elevation. The penultimate song “Papayas ’21” with Roc Marciano & Killah Priest finds the trio on some dusty hardcore shit & just before the “Epilogue” outro, I think “Nosebleeds” with Boldy James serves as the true closer opening up about growing up in Detroit with it’s folksy sample.

As much as I fucked with Bundle Raps, I think it’s safe to say that Ekphrasis is just a tad bit better. Marci’s sample-based production is ever so pleasing to the ear & lyrically, this could very well be the best that Bronze has ever sounded.

Score: 4/5

Flee Lord – “Delgado” review

Flee Lord is a 38 year old MC from Queensbridge, New York who came up in 2017 as protege of the late Prodigy. He has since become known for building up a massive discography for himself with projects like the Loyalty or Death: Lord Talk trilogy produced by GodBlessBeatz, the Loyalty & Trust duology produced by 38 Spesh, the DJ Shay-produced Lucky 13, the Buckwild-produced Hand Me My Flowers, the Pete Rock-produced The People’s Champ & the Havoc-produced In the Name of Prodigy. But after dropping the the DJ Muggs-produced RAMM£LLZ££ back in March, the Lord is now enlisting Roc Marciano to produce his 16th EP.

The titular intro is a sumptuous piano ballad to say he’s important to the slums whereas “Slow Down” aggressively compares his verses to the feds pulling up on the strip. “Shouts Out to the Mobb” goes into jazzier territory showing love to his protégés, but then “Medusa” brings in some guitars for him & Conway the Machine to spit that gun talk.

“This is What Ya Want?” has a bit of a more orchestral feel reminding everyone his raps are reality, but then switches up into a classy vocal sample to get on his luxurious trap shit. Ransom tags along for “Breath of Air” to give them that back against the wall music just before Stove God Cook$ comes in for the grungy “Trim the Fat” talking about money, power & respect.

Meanwhile with “Skipping Town”, we have Flee jumping on top of some lavish keyboard embellishments trying to start a hood war leading into him & Marci detailing going from walking to driving sports cars on the unsettling “Breeze in a Porsche”. The penultimate track “1st Kill” has a more sadder tone instrumentally spitting that pure dope & the titular closer reads off as a cool 1-minute freestyle with some piano melodies accompanying it.

I wouldn’t be mad if you preferred Delgado over RAMM£LLZ££ because it’s undeniable that Flee Lord has been putting out some of his best work in the last couple years. Lyrically, he’s one of the illest out of New York right now & Roc Marciano’s production I feel like doesn’t get appreciated as much as his lyricism does.

Score: 4.5/5

Roc Marciano – “Mt. Marci” review

Roc Marciano is a 42 year old MC/producer from Long Island, New York who started out in the very late 90’s as a member of the Flipmode Squad. He then went solo in 2008 & has dropped 8 albums since, with the latest being Marcielago last December. Almost a year later, Marci is following it up by dropping his 9th full-length album.

After the “Allegories” intro, the first song “Downtown 81” talks about breaking bread at the penthouse over a savory Jake One instrumental while the track “COVID Cough” with ScHoolboy Q sees the 2 getting murderous over a perilous beat. The song “Wheat 40s” talks about not playing the hero role over some strings while the track “Spirit Cookin’” with Action Bronson finds the 2 on their mobster shit over a piano & a woodwind.

The song “Pimps Don’t Wear Rabbits” talks about those hating need to quit over a grimy beat while the track “Butterfly Effect” talks about trusting the process over a jazzy instrumental. “The Eye of the Whorus” with Stove God Cook$ sees the 2 talking about being paid to gloat over a funky beat while the song “Steel Vagina” talks about this woman betraying him over a bare piano instrumental.

The track “Broadway Killa” with Kool Keith finds the 2 talking about being cold blooded over an instrumental with some frightening synths while the song “Baby Powder” is well played 2-parter as Marci talks about hustling drugs over an peaceful instrumental from Chuck Strangers, but then transitions into some triumphant horns. The track “Trench Coat Wars” talks about smoking weed in a g-wagon over an eerie instrumental while the song “Wicked Days” talks about how no angel can stop the bullets over a murky beat & the Trent Truce feature is wack as fuck.

The track “Garbage Pal Kids” talks about how this chick’s gonna run if he calls her over a guitar while the song “Crocket N Tubbs” talks about how real bad boys move in silence over an alluring beat. The album ends with the title track, where Marci spits about writing it in coke oil over some keys & a high-pitched vocal sample.

It’s no secret that Roc Marciano has paved the way for cats like Griselda throughout the previous decade & this is a great way for him to kick off his 2020s output. His gritty lyricism never fails to amuse me this deep into his career & the production is on point as always too.

Score: 4/5

XP the Marxman – “Keep Firing” review

XP the Marxman is an MC from Los Angeles, California who came up as 1/3 of the trio Rhyme Addicts. He would eventually branch out for a solo career & has released a few projects since. However as a huge marijuana advocate, he’s celebrating 4/20 with a brand new EP entirely produced by none other than Roc Marciano.

“The Have Nots” that kicks the EP off talks about life in the ghetto over an Italian-flavored instrumental & after the titular interlude, the next song “Get Paid” of course talks about making money over an ominous instrumental. The track “No Idea” shows listeners how it is over a more upbeat instrumental while the song “Who Shot Ghost?” hooks up with Termanology to paint some vividly dark imagery over a supernatural instrumental. The EP finishes off with “Season Eatings”, where XP takes a more predominantly melodic approach over a smooth instrumental.

If you wanna get into XP’s music, I highly recommend starting off this because I think it’s his best release to date. He sounds hungrier than ever, Roc Marciano goes to show that he’s just as much of an incredible producer as he is an MC & it all comes together naturally.

Score: 4/5

Roc Marciano – “Marcielago” review

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This is the surprise 8th full-length album from Long Island heavyweight Roc Marciano, who started out as a member of the Flipmode Squad from the late 90s & early 2000s. He then went solo in 2008 & has dropped 7 critically acclaimed albums since, with his last 3 all coming out just last year. But after laying low throughout a good bulk of 2019, he’s finishing off his prolific decade with Marcielago.

After the “Select Few” intro, the first song “Molly Ringwald” finds Marci gets flirtatious over a lush instrumental from Animoss. The track “Choosin’ Fees” spits that drug game over a soulful beat while the song “Richard Gear” gets reflective over a lavish instrumental. The track “Ephesians” sees Marci getting mafioso whereas Ka gets conscious over a nocturnal instrumental while the song “Tom Chambers” with Knowledge the Pirate sees the 2 tells their competition not to get into their way over a jazzy beat.

The track “I.G.W.T. (In God We Trust)” talks about only having one another over a piano & a soul sample while the song “Puff Daddy” with Cook$ gets bloodthirsty over sinister instrumental. The track “Boosie Fade” with Westside Gunn sees the 2 spitting battle bars over a suspenseful beat while the song “Bomb Shelter” with Willie the Kid sees the 2 flexing over a soothing jazz sample.

The track “Saw” gets back on the mafioso tip lyrically over a haunting instrumental from The Alchemist while the song “SAYLAVI” is a clever play on the French phrase “c’est la vie & I like how trippy the Animoss beat is. The track “God Loves You” gets on the more motivational side & the church-like instrumental suits it fantastically, but the hook is just alright. Then before the “Legacy” outro, the final song “Joe Jackson” finds Marci bragging over a blaxploitation-esque instrumental.

Roc truly has been a leading figure in hip hop’s East Coast renaissance throughout the 2010s & this was a fantastic way for him to finish it off. There are a few spotty moments on here, but it feels like the musical equivalent to a crime film from the production to Roc’s lyricism getting sharper & sharper over time. Can’t wait to see what he’ll do going into the new decade.

Score: 4/5

Roc Marciano – “Kaos” review

Roc Marciano & DJ Muggs are 2 criminally underrated legends in the hip hop world. Both of whom been having a big 2018, with Roc putting out Rosebudd’s Revenge 2: The Bitter Dose in February & Behold a Dark Horse just last month while Muggs just put out a new Soul Assassins album Dia del Asesinato & the new Cypress Hill album Elephants on Acid within the past 2 months. But now, they’re uniting to put out Roc’s 7th full-length album.

After a 2 minute instrumental intro that sounds like it could be playing at the start of a blaxploitation film, the first song “Dolph Lundgren” sees Roc talking about him & an unnamed current rapper being from different eras over a minimalist instrumental with some acoustic guitar strumming. The next track “White Dirt” boasts about what he has over a grimy rap rock beat while “The E Train” is about being one of the illest over a laidback instrumental.

The track “Aunt Bonnie” vividly talks about murder over an apocalyptic instrumental while the song “Rolls Royce Rugs” of course returns to the bragging tip over a classy instrumental. The track “Caught a Lick” has a pretty murky vibe to it & Roc’s delivery on here is probably the catchiest on the entire album, but it’s way too short. The song “Wild Oats” gets mafioso over a haunting instrumental while the track “Shit I’m On” gets on some “king shit” over a piano. The song “Wormhole” talks about his main chick over a hypnotic beat & the outro spurs battle bars over an instrumental with a killer guitar & occasionally some orchestral elements.

To be honest, this is one of the best albums Roc has ever done. Despite it’s 36 minute runtime, his gritty lyricism & DJ Muggs’ signature production style mesh with each other near perfectly. I can also appreciate Roc for not getting any features on here as well.

Score: 4.5/5

Roc Marciano – “Behold a Dark Horse” review

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Roc Marciano is a legendary underground MC/producer from Long Island, New York who started out in the very late 90’s as a member of the Flipmode Squad. He then went solo in 2008 & has dropped 5 albums since, with his last one Rosebudd’s Revenge 2: The Bitter Dose being released in February of this year. However, he has decided to drop his 6th full-length album out of nowhere exclusively on his website.

Things start off with “The Horse’s Mouth”, where Roc brags about how dope he is over an eerie beat from Preservation. The next song “Congo” contains some gritty street bars over a Roc instrumental that contains some punchy drums & a guitar while the song “1,000 Deaths” gets confrontational over some strings. The song “Diamond Cutters” with Black Thought sees the 2 spitting battle bars over a middle eastern instrumental while the track “Amethyst” talks about being a threat in the streets over a somber instrumental from Animoss, but the hook halfway through was awkward. The song “Sampson & Delilah” gets back on the battle bar tip over a woodwind heavy instrumental from Doncee despite another wimpy hook while the track “No Love” with Knowledge the Pirate sees the 2 talking about trust over a beautiful soul sample from Roc himself.

The song “Trojan Horse” with Busta Rhymes sees the 2 getting mafioso over an instrumental that reminds of me “Wildflower” off of Ghostface Killah’s classic 1996 solo debut Ironman while the track “Fabio” goes at talentless rappers as well as bragging about himself over an instrumental from The Alchemist that starts off laidback, but then switches into something more eerie halfway through. The song “Secrets” gets romantic over a spacey beat from Roc himself while the penultimate track “Whoolers” returns to the braggadocious tip over a soulful horn-induced beat from Animoss. The album then ends with “Consigliere”, where Roc gets into the lavish life once again as well as challenging his competition over an orchestral instrumental from Q-Tip.

As I expected, Roc didn’t disappoint at all. I don’t care for the parts where he’s singing at all, but the beats & the lyrical content are just as gritty as they’ve always been. If you wanna hear a horribly underrated vet sound rawer than ever before, then give this a listen.

Score: 4/5