Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Mania Music Group - Welcome To The Sound Check EP (Mania Music Group)
Originally, Mania Music Group was set to release their new album, Welcome To The Audience, in March, but they decided to push it back a few weeks, and instead issue this 8-track preview EP, with a few songs from the album along with some bonus remixes. As with most Mania releases, it tries to showcase all the MCs on the label evenly, with Midas and Kane and Ron G. and new signing Milly July each getting a solo cut and most of them appearing together on posse cuts. The "Stevie's Wife" joint I posted a while back is on here, and it's generally more on that tip than soft stuff like the "Love Thang" single. I was already looking forward to the album but this is a nice little primer, should be interesting to hear how the whole thing shapes up. However, I wouldn't blame you for just waiting for the full LP, since the bonus freestyles aren't super essential. Lately a lot of the chatter around Mania has been regarding rumors about Midas, and if you really want to talk about or follow that, Chin-Yer's My Baltimore Diary blog recently had a post including her interview with Midas on the topic, along with footage of his battle with A-Class that fueled a lot of that talk. I'm not really into gossip, though, so I'm just gonna keep talking about the music. You can download this EP at Mania's Band Camp page.
Mania Music Group - "Beamer Benz or Bentley" Freestyle (mp3)
It's kinda cool to hear these guys all on the beat from a current mainstream hit, since they don't do that real often. It's kind of depressing to hear Midas and Kane spitting fake Drake lyrics on their verses, though (you know, that Young Money style where they just say something, then pause, then say a related phrase, instead of stringing it together as a metaphor or simile -- I call them 'grocery bag lines' because of that one part on "BedRock"). Midas's line in that style made me laugh, but still, it's a pretty terrible trend.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
My stuff on the Baltimore City Paper's Noise blog this month included a review of ScholarMan's new album, Free Spirit Of A Troubled Soul, and live reviews of Reina Williams @ Peace & A Cup Of Joe, Balti Mare and the Baltimore String Felons @ the Sidebar, and Bossman and Mullyman @ the Black Hole Rock Club with DJ Booman, DJ 5Starr, 100 Grandman, TestMe, Smash, Pork Chop, Skarr Akbar and others.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Comp - The Pay Attention Edition (Mr. Pay Attention/Love Me Or Hate Me Ent./Bang-A-Rang Gang/Shape Shifter Ent.)
Comp just dropped his first official album last summer, but he drops mixtapes that might as well be albums all the time, and true to his work ethic he's back barely six months later with a mixtape full of original productions. And more importantly, for the first time this tape has production credits on all the tracks, and you can really see how many of the beats Comp did himself. I always knew he produced some tracks going back to his earliest releases, but I had no idea how proficient he was until this mixtape, where he did all but 2 beats on the mixtape, with one of the others done by Jay Funk. And even though his sound is definitely kinda weird and low budget, I really respect his grind as a producer, not many other rappers in the city who can do both that well. It's definitely lighter material than the album, the kinda more playful, laid back Comp that you tend to get on mixtapes, but it's still pretty good. The "Where They Do That At?" remix (with Pork Chop, Skarr Akbar, Smash, 100 Grandman, Barnes, Los, Bossman, Paula Campbell and Mullyman, among others) is a bonus track at the end, and you can download the whole thing at RapBasement.com.
Comp - "Wut Else" (mp3)
When I wrote about his The Man With The Hand album last year, my one big criticism is that Comp's been the NYC rapper "what else" ad lib and really running it into the ground, and I even counted out 44 times he said it in the course of the whole CD. So I have to say it was pretty hilarious to put in this new mixtape, and the second track not only is called "Wut Else," but features him saying the phrase 42 times just in that one song. I didn't have the energy or patience to count "what else"'s for the whole CD this time, but he says it 19 times on the next song, "Action Figure," so he's really stepping it up. I'm not as annoyed by it anymore, maybe because I'm just numb to it now, but I still think it's lame to take a really played out phrase from another city and make it your 'thing,' Comp is creative enough that he should be able to come up with his own signature ad lib.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
This is The Boy Blesst's 2nd video off the Charmicidle album, for "Dun It Again." The first video got a lot of positive feedback, and this one's pretty different, but also a really good job by M1 Films.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
CJ - The Package Mixtape (DJ Driis/SalaamRemi.com)
CJ is the Baltimore-based R&B singer that I wrote a City Paper feature about a few weeks ago, and this is the mixtape I mentioned in the article that's hosted by Idris Elba from The Wire, and features production by Salaam Remi, Don Cannon, Bink and CJ himself. It's a really solid, short 30-minute preview of what he's capable of, and really has me looking forward to his album on J Records later this year. You can download The Package Mixtape here.
CJ - "We Can Get It In" (mp3)
This is the track produced by Don Cannon, who's really one of my favorite mainstream producers these days, really good song.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Rapdragons f/ Dustin Wong of Ponytail - "Early For Work (live at Mobtown Studios)" (mp3)
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Rapdragons recently became the 2nd hip hop act to do a 'microshow' with my friends at Mobtown Studios, performing a special set live in the studio for a small audience and recording it for posterity (the first was Cutthroat last year). The first half of their performance consisted of songs from their debut album, last year's Ten Stories High, and the second half was songs from their upcoming Featuring Baltimore, in which they sample a different Baltimore band on every song. At Mobtown they performed songs that sample the Art Department, Weekends, Existencils, and Secret Mountains, and had guest appearances by members of AK Slaughter, Future Islands and Ponytail, the latter on a song that samples Ponytail's "Late For School" that was my favorite part of the set. You can download and stream the whole set at the Mobtown site.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Chin-Yer of The Baltimore Scene started a pretty good blog, My Baltimore Diary, a while back, and she asked to interview me for it. So this week I answered a bunch of her questions about Government Names, writing for the City Paper, and my history of covering the local hip hop scene in Baltimore, and I think it came out pretty interesting.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Chyna Doll, Cash, Si-Notes and Shy Lady Heroin - "Going Down" (mp3)
Four female MCs from Baltimore who actually do shows and make records getting together and collaborating on an entertaining song >>>> someone I've never even heard of getting national press for a publicity stunt YouTube diss of a mainstream artist she doesn't even know.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
E Major - The Major Major Mixtape (Under Sound Music)
E Major has really matured into an artist to watch in the last few years, first with the Major General Mixtape, where I feel like he kinda got out of the typical underground rapper box and used some different kinds of beats, and then with the Majority Rules album, which really flowed well as an album and had a good variety of different sounds and topics. And this new mixtape is probably up to par with those, although to be honest I might not be as interested in it because it doesn't really seem to represent any new step forward like those releases did, it's just kinda some new tracks. Also, that "Unheard" song he dropped a few months ago, which at the time was tagged as being from this mixtape, isn't on here, and really I think E spit better on that song than anything that actually made it onto the tape. This been out since last month, but the release party is at this Tuesday's Always Dope, since the original date was postponed because of the blizzard, and you can download the whole thing on Band Camp.
E Major - "The Major Major Intro" (mp3)
In a way this track is aptly titled because it's really more than intro, more like a full on 4-minute song, E Major really kinda tells his story on this one and I think it's better than a lot of the song songs on the tape.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Lucky a.k.a. Mark Milly - "Half & Half" (mp3)
I've never really listened to this guy before, but I gotta give him props for the clever idea of taking Gucci Mane's "Lemonade," in my opinion probably the best song on the radio these days, and doing his own twist on it by making it about half & half (the mix of lemonade and iced tea that's popular in Baltimore).
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Height With Friends - Swiss Chard, Vol. 1 (SpliceToday.com)
Height With Friends have been on a good run since last year, releasing Baltimore Highlands, the companion remix album, and they have another album in the can for release later this year. In between, they got together with SpliceToday.com to release a free download release, the first in a series called Swiss Chard (incidentally, I tried Swiss chard for the first time last year and it can be really good, my wife cooks it up with garlic and rice). A few years ago, Height used to do a series of EPs called Utility Fog between albums, so I guess that's kind of what this series is going to be like, too. All of Height's albums are short, usually a half hour or less, and as a stopgap EP-type release this is even short, 5 songs in under 9 minutes. So it's not really substantial in and of itself or a good intro to Height, but if you already like his stuff there's some good tracks here to throw in a playlist with his other records. It also features a lot of his kind of abstract, chant-y material, so it's not as overtly hip hop as some of his other releases (although the last track is a Schoolly D cover/homage). Like the other With Friends releases, this features contributions from Mickey Free, AK Slaughter and P.T. Burnem, among others. Height With Friends are performing at the Windup Space this Saturday, and setting off on a national tour in a couple weeks, and Bmore Musically Informed recently posted a preview of a few tracks from their upcoming album, Bed Of Seeds, which will be out on May 1st.
Height With Friends - "Right Road" (mp3)
This is the first and longest track on the record, also my favorite, apparently it only didn't make the cut on a previous record because of length concerns.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Backland - "Oh My Gosh" (mp3)
New banger produced by Jay Funk, and like the track I posted a few weeks ago, this is presumably from Backland's upcoming Block Work mixtape.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Mania Music Group f/ Kane Mayfield, Rapman Ron. G and Eze Jackson of Soul Cannon - "Love Thang" (mp3)
This is the first single off of Mania's new album, Welcome To The Audience, and you can also stream the song on their Band Camp page. There's a release party for the album at Always Dope on March 16th, and the record will be out officially on March 23rd.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Tha Profitt / Kezey - Nosebleed Section / Dumbass The Seed (Profitt Productions)
In addition to his frequent solo mixtapes, Tha Profitt seems to be doing more and more collaborative ventures these days, including releases that showcase his whole label roster and split releases that feature a solo record by him and another by someone else. Last year there was a double CD with Scryptz, and this one is on the same tip, although it's just on one CD, with Profitt on the first 20 tracks and Kezey on the last 13 tracks. Nosebleed Section is one of the better Profitt releases I've heard, partly because he's not recycling a bunch of songs from his other CDs like he usually does. Also, he's really starting to kind of carve out more of an identity, because the dude really grinds hard and works at this music thing, and he kinda talks about the toll that takes on him on this album, and lets you in on his life a little more, which I think makes the songs more interesting and relatable. He's still got a weird voice and is probably kind of an acquired taste, but the kid can definitely flow. I wasn't really feeling the Kezey half, though, that guy just can't ride a beat to save his life, should be just doing poetry or something. Profitt's side of the CD features guest verses and drops from local artists including Skarr Akbar, TestMe, Bossman, Stackz, Mullyman and Alicia Peace, as well as appearances by Lil Fame from M.O.P. and Termanology and Tech N9ne. You can download this at allbmorehiphop.com/thaprofitt and allbmorehiphop.com/kezey, and this weekend Tha Profitt is performing at the Black Hole on Friday and at The Quarter on Saturday.
Tha Profitt f/ Sylence, Heavy Gold and Tony Bosco - "On My Way" (mp3)
This is the best of a handful of posse cuts on the CD, and I had to post it since Tony Bosco gets so much hate in the comments section here and his verse on this is pretty dope.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
This week in the City Paper I have a feature about CJ, the Baltimore R&B singer who got a Grammy nomination last year for his song with Raphael Saadiq and Stevie Wonder, and is working on a solo album for J Records. The above video is for "It Ain't Easy" off of his recent mixtape, and J is getting ready to release his official single soon.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Say Wut - Streets of Baltimore (Horsemen Entertainment/Unruly Records)
Say Wut's latest mix features a lot of his popular recent tracks, including "Go Off Wit It," "Back On My Grind" and "Shawty Tear It Up." I listed the title track in my Club Beat rundown of the best tracks of 2009, but for the most part I can't say this stuff is my favorite Say Wut material. He's definitely consistent but in my opinion he's been more inspired in the past, and some tracks he does a lot of vocals himself, which has never been his strong suit. Still one of the best producers out, though, and always worth checking for.
Say Wut - Streets of Baltimore (mp3)
This is the whole 30-minute mix, since it's all on one track.
Monday, March 08, 2010
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Rapdragons - "She Got Me (Moss of Aura Remix)" (mp3)
This is the first leak from Ten Stories Hijacked, the remix album companion to last year's Ten Stories High that Rapdragons are releasing on April 20th. Michael Byrne reviewed this remix in the City Paper recently, too. The original version was my least favorite song on the album, but this one is a definite improvement in that it doesn't remind me of Shwayze. The Rapdragons are performing a 'micro-show' at Mobtown Studios this Thursday, March 11th, see the Mobtown site for details (it's a small show so you gotta RSVP).
Saturday, March 06, 2010
Friday, March 05, 2010
Gabbo - Streets Of Jupiter (New Tribe Entertainment)
One of my biggest pet peeves about rap these days is how lazy cats will be about signifying that they're 'weird' or 'creative' without actually saying anything especially strange. Like, they'll talk about spaceships and stars, stuff that anyone who's ever been through 3rd grade or watched television knows about, and act like they're all off the wall and crazy just for talking about anything besides regular hip hop topics like cars, money, etc. (I guess we should blame Lil Wayne? He actually is an odd guy, at least). Having said that, I like this record, but it's a classic case of this syndrome; 99% of Gabbo's subject matter is completely garden variety rap shit, but because he's got a planet on his album cover he tries to sell himself as a weirdo, when he's really just a solid, no-nonsense '90s-style MC. At the very least, though, he named the intro track "Captain Butnard Speaks," which cracked me the fuck up.
Still, I have to admit the goofy cover, and the rapper's name reminding me of a classic Simpsons episode, made me stop and look at this CD when I was flipping through the misc rap bin at the Sound Garden a while back. They keep a lot of local stuff there, so I'll always kinda browse and check out anything unfamiliar or independent-looking to see if it was made in Baltimore, and this one had a couple familiar names in the liner notes on teh back cover, namely Street Legal Studios and Ms. Tris Beats, so I went ahead and copped it. And it's pretty good! Again, he's on some meat and potatoes classic MC shit with just a little bit of eccentricity thrown in, but it works and the beats knock more often than not. Check out Gabbo on MySpace.
Gabbo - "Fly Away" (mp3)
This isn't really my favorite track on the album, and he says some bullshit on it that comes off kinda anti-Semitic to me in the 2nd verse, but it's the single available on iTunes and since this CD always fucks up my computer, it was the only track I could get online to upload.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
DJ Class - Blue Lava EP (ClassHeat Records)
When I saw on DJ Class's Twitter a while back that he was going to be releasing a new EP on the iTunes store, I was pretty excited, since he's been on such a hot streak with all his new tracks over the past year and change since "I'm The Ish." So when I sat down to listen to and write about the record, I was really kind of surprised how much I disliked it, which probably came out a little too strongly in my recent review for the City Paper's Noise blog. Anything Class drops is definitely well produced and worth hearing, but I really wasn't feeling the way he went with the AutoTune/synth-heavy sound of "I'm The Ish" even further to the point that it barely sounds like Baltimore club music and kinda sounds like generic 'urban pop' or something. Still, this is just 6 tracks I wasn't feeling, and maybe he's just holding back the really good shit still for Alameda & Coldspring. Here's a video I was sent of DJ Class in the studio with the singer Monica Rush.
DJ Class - "Holla" (mp3)
As I mentioned in the review, this is really the track with the most over Baltimore club vibe, with "Think" drums and everything, but really it's my favorite because it's got a nice laid back vibe and some slick Class raps.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Monday, March 01, 2010
Wordsmith - Overdue & Underrated (HipHopDX/2dopeboyz/Coast 2 Coast/Frostwire)
Wordsmith is headlining Always Dope this Tuesday, so I thought I'd post about his mixtape that dropped late last year that I'd posted the single "Braggin' Rights" from a while back. I'm not always crazy about Wordsmith's records, sometimes they just feel kind of dry and clinical and he's generally not good at hooks. But I'm really digging this one, so far the songs I'm liking the most include "You Never Know" and "Half Bar Half Amazing" and "Beast In The Trunk," just really consistently good beats on this project. You can download it at 2dopeboyz.
Wordsmith f/ Kontact, Black Knight, Gripz, Greenspan, E Major and Sean Toure - "Baltimore Nights" (mp3)
One of Wordsmith's previous mixtapes had a Baltimore posse cut I posted that also featured some of the same MCs, but I think this one hangs together and works better as a song. E Major just dropped his new mixtape, Greenspan has one coming this month, and I'm forever waiting on that Sean Toure album that I think could turn out really great.