Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Zoo Has Never Sounded So Awesome

The Latest Greatest, 12/22/10

Whoa. Beastly rap mammoths and lavabanger connaiseurs alike will be pleased to hear that Sims & Lazerbeak's long-awaited "Bad Time Zoo" album is available for pre-order over at camp Doomtree. You can order it in a regular edition (which comes with tons of free goodies) or a mega deluxe package (which comes with the same tons of free goodies, plus an ill green T-shirt and a purty silk-screened art box). Whether you want lots of extras or lots and lots of extras is on you, but I'd highly advise ordering it one way or the other, because this album is pretty much a guaranteed jaw-dropping, eyebrow-raising, eardrum-shocking juggernaut of a rap album. It's so dangerous, it even comes with its own custom box-cutter. I'm predicting an early album of 2011, much like Dessa's "Badly Broken Code" owned 2010. Until this compact nuclear warhead disc properly drops on February 15th, take a look at the tracklisting and give "Burn It Down" a listen if you haven't done so yet. It's ON boyeeee.

1. Future Shock
2. Burn It Down
3. Bad Time Zoo
4. Too Much
5. One Dimensional Man
6. In My Sleep
7. When It Rolls In
8. Good Times
9. LMG
10. The Veldt
11. Weight
12. Radio Opaque
13. Sink or Syncopate
14. Hey You

Sims "Burn It Down by doomtree

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Grouch, Brother Ali and Eligh at New Parish in Oakland

View From the Middle Row, 12/21/10

About a week ago, I was fortunate enough to get guest-listed to "The Grouch Stole Christmas Tour," which has been selling out shows nation-wide and which I figured would be a particularly hot ticket in Oakland, since the majority of the line-up are hometown heroes. The night started off on the wrong foot as I somehow figured the show was on a Friday, and ended up correcting myself at the last minute and rolling out to it a bit late. I missed the opening act, Los Rakas, and didn't get a chance to seize a space front and center like I usually do because of the massive crowd. Still, I didn't completely designate myself to the rear, and got to watch full sets from Eligh, Brother Ali, and The Grouch from a nice space in the center of the crowd.

This was my first time seeing Eligh of Living Legends perform live, and he really impressed
me with his focused and well-balanced set. Eligh has been repping the West since the days of trading underground cassette tapes in the mid-90s, but has been on a musical hiatus for several years due to a nasty drug habit that he had to kick. His full rehabilitation was apparent in the strength of his performance, and everyone could tell how happy he was to be back on stage doing his thing in front of a hometown crowd. He performed a number of solid songs from his most recent album "Grey Crow" that emphasized the originality of his voice and his amazing flow. He also went into a couple of numbers from his older albums, and brought out a couple of local guests to assist him. Bay area vocalist Paris Hayes backed him up on a number with some sweet singing vocals, and Eligh's mother also came out to perform a duet with him off of their collaborative album "On Sacred Ground." It was a very entertaining set that left the crowd in a good mood, though a few of the more obnoxious Brother Ali fans insisted on shouting his name between songs.

Speaking of Brother Ali, he seemed to be the reason that many of the people in the crowd were there, myself included. Brother Ali has shown and proven over the course of three full length albums and a couple EPs that he's one of the nicest MCs in modern hip hop, and his live shows are generally a great showcase of how talented and soulful a rapper he is. The last time I'd seen him live was when he was touring for his 2007 album "The Undisputed Truth," so I was looking forward to seeing him perform some of his more recent songs. Well, big surprise, he did not disappoint. Brother Ali barreled through a number of his newer tracks like "The Preacher," "Fresh Air" and "Tightrope" with an ease that can only come from years of touring experience, transitioning smoothly from song to song and adding extra elements to each one to cater to a live setting. He was really feeling the Oakland crowd and got open with them between tracks, talking a lot about the success of the tour and about love and unity between people. I felt that there was a little too much of this talking at times, though Brother Ali has a soulful preacher quality to his voice that made it almost feel like watching an entertaining sermon at points. One of the more surprising elements he added to his set was a cover of his recently deceased friend Eyedea's "Smile," in which he improvised and freestyled the second verse, noting in one line that "Mickey [Eyedea] would have wanted it this way." He also kicked some of his older favorites like "Blah Blah Blah" and "Forest Whitiker," and got an enormous crowd response for every track. Great set from one of the stronger MCs working in hip hop today.

The Grouch, a Bay area favorite responsible for putting together the tour, closed things out as the headliner of the evening. While I have a great deal of respect for the Grouch's tireless work ethic and productivity, I've never been a huge fan of his music and this set was not on par with the other two in my opinion. There were clearly long-time followers of the Grouch in attendance who got excited over numerous songs from his catalog, and were chanting the lines word by word... I just wasn't one of them. Granted, Grouch did go out of his way to make his set special. He called Eligh to the stage to perform a bunch of G&E numbers, which was ill, and also got Bicasso of Living Legends up to help him with a few songs. I also appreciated the way that Grouch tapped into songs spanning his entire extensive catalog, including collab tracks like "Silly Putty" from Zion I's "Mind Over Matter." Still, I don't think that the set was really my cup o'tea in the end, though it didn't detract anything from what was otherwise a completely awesome show,

Here's a video of Brother Ali performing his song "Tightrope," off of the album "Us":

Not to be Confused with West Coast Workforce...

The Latest Greatest, 12/21/10

The first official video from Blueprint's sophmore solo album on Rhymesayers, "Adventures in Counter Culture." This album has been a long time in the making, so long that Printmatic had to assure people that his dog didn't eat it on BK One's 2009 full length. I've been following the evolution of 'Print's MCing for like a decade, so it's great to see this thing finally coming out on 3/1/11 via Rhymesayers Entertainment. Looking forward to what sounds like a more experimental offering from one of the strongest voices of Columbus, OH's hip hop scene. Hopefully, the new Greenhouse full length won't be nearly as long a wait!

1. Five Years Ago
2. Go Hard or Go Home (Printnificence)
3. Automatic
4. Keep Bouncing
5. Wanna Be Like You
6. My Culture
7. Mind, Body, & Soul (feat. Angelica Lee)
8. So Alive
9. Stole Our Yesterday
10. Radio-Inactive
11. Welcome Home
12. Fly Away
13. The Clouds
14. Rise & Fall
15. The Other Side

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Michael Isn't Playing Around

The Latest Greatest, 12/11/10

Kind of late in posting this here, but couldn't continue blogging without mentioning Onry Ozzborn's staggering work ethic these days. The Oldominion vet is dropping a free full length album this month entitled "No Hoax," which comes in weekly three-song installments that drop each Monday of December. The first of these installments has already dropped via Circle Into Square, and it sounds solid as usual. The craziest part is that this free album is just something to hold people over till his next album, "Hold on for Dear Life," is released on Fake Four Inc. on January 22nd in physical format. How he has time to produce two solo full lengths, maintain his group Dark Time Sunshine, and tour all year while keeping a high standard of quality is beyond me...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Awkwardness Incarnate

The Latest Greatest, 12/4/10

UK electro-glitch rap producer Awkward will be releasing a new official LP, "Grand Prize," on Mestizo's Machina Muerte label on December 14th. I mainly know Awkward for his collaborations with LA's stylistic underground rap scene, which include contributions to albums by members of Swim Team. By the looks of the tracklisting on this new album, he's roped in some interesting voices to compliment his interesting beats, including the likes of Awol One, Open Mike Eagle, and Megabusive. Could end up being one of December 2010's finer surprises, keep your ears peeled.


0 The Shapes In Space
1 Build Lights
2 Tanks On Empty
3 Searching with Awol One
4 Adams Apple with Nadia Nair and Shuanise
5 Not In The Same Room w/ Alex Pathetic, Awkward, Dezmatic, Open Mike Eagle, Stepchild and Matt Gamin
6 Advice with Open Mike Eagle
7 High Entry
8 Middlemen Of A Higher Power with Rheteric Ramirez
9 Rare Form with Isaiah Toothtaker
10 The Segment with Age and Rogue
11 For Converations Sake with Megabusive
12 Serious Sentances withh Snagneto, CoMo and Stepchild
13 Stretched Animal Skin Drum Ten with Dee Swift
14 Kings with Roastlonely

Friday, December 3, 2010

It Ain't Safe for MCs No More

The Latest Greatest, 12/3/10

Well, this is a pleasant surprise. After an extended absence from the Chicago rap scene, I was worried that Vakill and the Molemen had just given it up altogether or had fallen victim to some bullshit industry politics. I remember this "Armor of God" album being announced shortly after Vakill's 2006 release "Worst Fears Confirmed," and then kind of gradually vanishing from sight as the years passed by. Great to see that the album is still in the works and slated for a 2011 release. Vakill is a really great rapper with razor-sharp wit, sick flows, versatile concepts, and the best punchlines of any modern rapper in my opinion. "The Darkest Cloud" and "Worst Fears Confirmed" were two of my favorite albums of their respective years, so I'm sure this one will continue that legacy of excellence. No idea how many modifications have been made since then, but here's a tentative tracklisting that dropped a few years back:

1 Intro
2 Armor of God (prod. by Jake One)
3 Beast Ballad f. Juice, Rhymefest, Nino Bless & Crooked I (prod. by Panik)
4 Sick Cinema (prod. by Panik)
5 Heavy (prod. by Panik)
6 Endless Road f. Vizion (prod. by MGI)
7 Armorgeddon (Shit On You) (prod. by Jake One)
8 I Came 4 U (prod. by Panik)
9 Wild Wild (prod. by Bluntologist)
10 The Apology (prod. by Joe Blow)
11 NWA (Nigga Wit Appetite) (prod. by Panik)
12 Lynch (prod. by Croup)
13 Mean Mug Muzik (prod. by Panik)
14 You Don’t Know (prod. by Panik)
15 Bi-Polar (prod. by Panik)
16 Proof (prod. by Jake One)
17 God Given f. Juice and Astonish (prod. by Panik)

Emulsion > Emotion

The Latest Greatest, 12/3/10

The first official leak from Sims' upcoming Lazerbeak-produced behemoth "Bad Time Zoo" has dropped, and it's sounding extra dangerous indeed. Seems like I've been waiting a few years for this project to drop, since it's first inception as "The Veldt," and if this single's anything to go by then a lot of heads are going to roll come February 2011. I'm a fan of both Paper Tiger and Lazerbeak's albums that dropped this year, but think that "Bad Time Zoo" is going to bump Doomtree back to levels of jaw-dropping outstanding-ness not witnessed since Dessa's "Badly Broken Code" or Doomtree's self-titled album. I heard this track performed live when Doomtree passed through San Francisco on their "Wings & Teeth" tour, and couldn't be happier with how the official recorded version of it came out. Sims' "Bad Time Zoo" will be released 2/15/11 on Doomtree Records. Audio below, get excited.

Find more artists like SIMS at Myspace Music

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fresh Fish Bear Fins

The Latest Greatest, 12/2/10

A new sampler from Baje One's record label Modern Shark, which has only made ripples thus far but which always has some dope music from NY's underground available for your listening pleasure. This new sampler features contributions from Cool Calm Pete, Baje One, Tone Tank & Scott Thorough, etc. You can stream it directly below, and you can stream volume 1 even further down if you missed it. P.S: if anyone has some info on this StarPower cat, I'd love to hear it. Dope verse from that guy!

Volume 1: